Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Rules of Friending on Facebook

I learned a few weeks back that I had some security preference on Facebook checked so that my name didn't come up when people searched for it. After I lost my job, I figured I should probably make myself available through all appropriate channels for the new media-savvy, and opened myself up to the teaming refuse of the Internet.

But what I hoped would turn into a networking opportunity has become a forced march down memory lane. Right now, I'm debating what to do with the friend requests waiting to be processed. One of them is from a girl who threatened to fight me in seventh grade after I called her a slut. Another is from a girl who barely gave me the time of day in high school. The third is from some distant cousin who reports all my comings and goings on MySpace to the maternal grandmother with whom I have little contact.

I feel like there's no set etiquette for how to proceed here. After an informal poll of my friends, many subscribe to the belief that if they didn't like someone a decade or two ago, they shouldn't give them access to information. But what if my classmates have changed as much in the ensuing years as I have? Shouldn't I let the petty shit that I said when I was young and foolish go?

And family is an especially fraught battle. I friended a distant relative on my father's side, but my grandmother had already passed along my phone number because we live in the same part of Somerville. I added my brother because he pretty much knows what's going on with me, but probably wouldn't add my mother if she joined, if only to spare her the shame of seeing the large percentage of my pictures which feature me holding some form of alcohol.

One of my friends also believes this is a good plan, and explained to her mother that she wouldn't be friending her. Another cohort encouraged her mother to join in order to foster hobbies other than "obsessing over her grandchildren and drinking."

So here are the rules as I see them: If you're not comfortable adding someone, ignore their request. If they keep bugging you and you don't mind burning that particular bridge, explain politely that you'd rather not add them. If it becomes an issue where you might not want to piss the person off, add them with limited access to your information. That way the family reunion isn't too awkward, either from hurt feelings or when that aggressive relative starts talking about that picture of you singing "Copacabana" at Sissy K's Monday night karaoke.

Not that I have any pictures like that, mind you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Further Adventures in Car Ownership Borrowing

It was bound to happen eventually. After the Chicken Grease Incident of Aught Eight, my grandmother's car has suffered another injustice.

Its first parking ticket.

Which would have been fine if I'd forgotten about street cleaning, or if I'd left the car parked in a resident spot downtown. But it was just sitting in what I thought was a perfectly legal spot at the top of my street. When I'd parked it yesterday, I noticed it was a little close to the crosswalk, but moved it up later that night.

Apparently, I didn't shift forward far enough. When I went to get the car this afternoon, it had the bright orange ticket on the windshield. It accused me of parking within 20 feet of an intersection.

Not to sound like an entitled brat, but this is total B.S., Somerville. People park in that spot all the time and don't get ticketed. Twenty feet would put me halfway down the block. And it's not like my place is in a big intersection—there's plenty of room for cars to navigate. Is it my out-of-state plates? Some bored cop decided to make a quick buck on my dwindling dollars?

Sigh. Just another expense for my unemployed ass.

The New York Times Is Selling. But Who's Buying the Globe?

Most employees of companies that are facing uncertainty during these trying economic times listen to every bit of gossip and hearsay that float around the office when rumors of a new owner circulate. It must be nice for the reporters at the Globe to call up the people who are reportedly considering becoming their new bosses to verify the rumors.

Both Boston Herald publisher Patrick Purcell and former Boston advertising executive Jack Connors separately flatly ruled out being involved in deals to buy the Boston Globe, which is owned by the New York Times Co. . . .

"There's nothing to it,'' Connors told the Globe. "I'm not buying the Boston Globe. I'm not buying anything that the New York Times owns.''
Hmm. Maybe Connors is waiting for the NYT to sell the possibly worthless broadsheet to another media conglomerate, and will then swoop in (perhaps wearing a cape) to purchase the Globe. Sure, it sounds crazy, but so does the possibility of News Corp. buying the Globe, merging it with Ottaway, and shuttering the Herald.

[I]n a statement today Purcell said he had no discussions as Ottaway chairman "with any potential bidders" for the Globe and called the Financial Times story "completely unfounded and not rooted in reality." The sole owner of the Herald, Purcell said he was committed to keeping Boston a two-newspaper city.

I'd like to announce that I am interested in buying the Boston Globe. I can offer $900, a 19-inch HD television, and my caustic wit. Provided I can live in the Morrissey Boulevard offices, of course.

Slow News Day Quick Hits

No kidding.

I enjoy the Espresso Royale near Symphony Hall or on Newbury Street.

I'd rather be broke in Europe than in America. At least then, I'd be living the dream while living paycheck to paycheck.


WTF, Part II.

Well, that sucks. But there's always next year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Examining the Christmas Haul

You guys, I'm in love. I'd like you to meet the very special additions to my life.


Yes, that's a Big Blue Bug Christmas ornament (which will become a year-round desk ornament when/if I get a new full-time gig—it reminds me of my roots) and a 16GB iPod Touch. I know I say this every time I get a new iPod, but this is seriously the best thing to happen to me in months. Not only do I have all my music at my disposal again after years of using a teensy 1 GB Nano, but I think this may be the device that leads to my fiscal solvency.

Did you guys know about this site called Mint.com? You enter in all the information for your bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and investments, and it automatically updates and tells you what you're worth, what fees you've incurred, etc. I now know I'm worth -$49,532, and that's before I've added in my overdraft account and federal student loans. Which is a good thing to know, even if it does make me want to kill myself. And, provided there is WiFi available, I'll be able to see that before I make a stupid purchase.

This should be handy when my Mom and I hit the outlets tomorrow. Here's hoping for some good deals.

In other Christmas news, I'm happy to report I got a new coat, some gift certificates to Target, and some lovely soaps. And my brother hooked me up with a sweet USB hub and a portable battery backup which will keep me a-rockin' whilst I am on the road.

In honor of this special day, let's do the iPod meme.

Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you?
Let Your Troubles Roll By, Carbon Leaf [Um, I guess I'm easygoing? I don't think so, but, 'kay.]

Will I have a happy life?
Say Hello, Jay-Z ["I come from the bottom, but I'm mad fly." Sounds good to me.]

What do my friends really think of me?
New Slang, The Shins ["Never should have called but my head's to the wall and I'm lonely." Depressing.]

What do people secretly think of me?
Original Sinsuality, Tori Amos [This is cryptic, even for Tori. I cannot divine meaning from this. Maybe I'm a ho?]

How can I be happy?
Georgia On My Mind, Ray Charles [I do like warm weather and peaches.]

What should I do with my life?
She Loves You, The Beatles [Tell people I love them? OK. Done.]

Will I ever have children?
American Girls, Counting Crows [Guess they'll be girls, which is OK. Just sad they won't have a British father.]

What is some good advice for me?
Thunder Road, Bruuuuce ["Hey what else can we do now/ Except roll down the window/ And let the wind blow/ Back your hair." Run away. Gotcha.]

How will I be remembered?
Seamless Life, Vance Gilbert [This is a beautiful song by an artist you should know, but it's very depressing. Basically about living the 9-5 grind without any adventure or complications. "No rough edges/ and no loose ties/ living the seamless life." Swell.]

What is my signature dancing song?
Gatheration, Lady Sovereign [Awesome. "Lightweights, I really can't stand 'em."]

What do I think my current theme song is?
Tears Dry on Their Own, Amy Winehouse [Um, yes. "Even if I stop wanting you/ Perspective pushes through/ I'll be some next man's other woman soon/ I shouldn't play myself again/ I should just be my own best friend/ Not fuck myself in the head with stupid men."]

What does everyone else think my current theme song is?
God's Gonna Cut You Down, Johnny Cash [Holy crap. "You can run on for a long time/ Run on for a long time/ Run on for a long time/ Sooner or later God'll cut you down/ Sooner or later God'll cut you down."]

What song will play at my funeral?
Don't Stop Believin', Journey [Dudes. If I die, seriously, I want this played. For I am naught but a small-town girl living in a lonely world.]

What type of men/women do you like?
Never Coming Home, Sting [Ah, yes. This is true. The ones who run away.]

What is my day going to be like?
Love At First Sight, Kylie Minogue [Hey, I did fall in love today. With my iPod!]

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Merry, Happy Happy

The carrot cake has been baked. My attempt at cinnamon buns is attempting to rise on the kitchen counter. There are ample chocolate chip cookies available for noshing. My brother and I just finished wrapping gifts.

I'm officially ready for Christmas.

Here's hoping that the 2008 edition of the holiday finds you healthy, still employed, and spending time with your loved ones. As always, I'm grateful to have the gift of readers who give a crap what I have to say, even without BoMag in my URL. And, to my Jewish friends, I hope you see an awesome movie tomorrow.

I'll see you when the eggnog haze lifts on Friday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In Which the Derjue Family Saves Christmas

We've all seen those hackneyed Christmas specials in which someone saves Christmas. Ernest Saved Christmas once. So did Elmo.

Today, the Derjue family saved Christmas. For real.

A friend of mine had planned to leave for Las Vegas to celebrate Christmas with her parents on Sunday. Because of the snow, she figured it would be smart to change her flight to Monday evening. As an added bonus, she'd be on the same flight as the rest of her siblings and her niece.

Except JetBlue canceled their flight three hours before it left on Monday, sending the family scrambling to find another flight. Naturally, everything out of Logan was astronomically expensive, sold out, or would get them there well after Christmas. I offered to do everything I could for them. At the time, I figured that would be limited to fielding my friend's profanity-laced emails and text messages.

But when Sam and I got back to my Mom's house last night, my friend asked if I'd be willing to drive her to the airport in Manchester, NH to catch the one flight in all of New England that wouldn't force her niece into white slavery to pay for. I was on my way to Boston to look at apartments (know of a place/sublet? Let me know!) this afternoon, so I saw no reason why my Mom and I couldn't swing by and do a good deed.

I woke up an hour later than I'd hoped, told my Mom the plan, took a fast shower, and hit the road. At first, we knew we were getting my friend. Then her brother was on board. Then her sister, sister-in-law, and niece. All in one big (but not that big) vehicle.

Traffic was fine through Providence and Boston, and we got my friend with ease. Then we got on 93 to pick up our second passenger in Woburn. Our trusty GPS sent us through the cute little downtown area of the city, which was overrun with schoolchildren who'd just been let out and last-minute holiday shoppers. After we picked up her brother, we sat in Burlington Mall traffic. Then we sat in more traffic as we drove to another part of town to pick up the rest of the family at a Logan Express lot.

After an epic struggle, we somehow fit six adults and one preschooler into my grandmother's van.

"Are we going on an adventure?" My friend's sister asked her daughter.

"No," she said. "We're just going on a plane."

My friend commanded me to drive like the wind, which I certainly did. My mother shifted nervously in her seat as I tailgated and weaved in and out of traffic. I wished that I had some sort of flashing light to indicate that I was doing the good work of saving Christmas for an entire family to push the slow cars aside.

Because I used my excellent driving skills and did not allow my poor mother to use a bathroom all morning, we managed to get the family to the airport 40 minutes before their flight left. I just got a message from my friend, saying that they barely made it through bag check, but are safely in Nevada.

I'd have done it for any of my friends, and don't expect anything other than gas money in payment. But if this doesn't put me on the "nice" list, I don't know what will.

Monday, December 22, 2008

GateHouse Gets Litigious

It is, as the kids say, on like Donkey Kong between GateHouse Media and the Globe. Dan Kennedy reports that the local paper chain is suing the broadsheet over its hyperlocal "Your Town" sites. Which isn't totally surprising—the chain's owner hinted as much when I spoke to him for Boston Daily.

Now Universal Hub founder Adam Gaffin has announced he won't be posting any content from GateHouse sites, fearing a lawsuit since he too earns money off ads and could be accused of doing the same thing as Boston.com. I'd argue that it's less problematic for GateHouse when Gaffin links to their stories because he populates most of his site with content from local bloggers and probably causes the company to lose $.00002 per story. Boston.com's determination to repeat the Universal Hub model on the super-local level in order to save its fledgling business model definitely encroaches on GateHouse's turf in a more menacing way.

I can't wait to see how this one plays out. And I have no fear in linking to GateHouse content—I can assure you this blog makes me exactly zero dollars.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tire Treads in the Snow

As promised, here are the pictures from my commute yesterday. Good times.

Spray-On Pancakes. Really

After my 2-hour epic drive to Rhode Island yesterday (pics to come—sorry to mess with the chronology), my mother and I went to the grocery store to pick up some milk and bread for my grandfather. As we walked through the refrigerator section, I did a double-take.

The store had pancake batter in a can more traditionally used for whipped cream.

My Mom and I had a good chuckle about the product, and decided it was worth trying on a snowy Sunday morning. Even if it did cost $5. But it's organic!


It works just how you think such a product would. Press on the little white plastic dispenser, et voila. Organic pancake batter on-demand.


Here was our first pancake. I used too little batter, so it came out looking more like a lace cookie.


I was a little more liberal on my later flapjacks. And we even had some frozen blueberries to add to the flavor bouquet.


I went into this experiment fully expecting to eat scrambled eggs for breakfast, but the batter was surprisingly tasty. It had a nice nutty flavor, and no weird chemical aftertaste from whatever magic substance propels the contents of those spray cans.

For single people like me, the spray pancake is a brilliant invention. Whenever I make pancakes for myself, or even for my family when I'm home, the smallest amount of batter Bisquick whips up is way too big. Now even losers who don't have a special someone to make doe-eyes at over Sunday brunch can still enjoy a special breakfast without wasting food.

In closing: Spray pancakes are pasquinade-tested, and pasquinade-approved.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My First City Parking and Snow Experience

I lingered over my Saturday morning bagel even longer than usual today because I dreaded what awaited me when it came time to move Grandmother's Car from its snowy parking place. I'd watched the snow coverage. I'd packed up the KitchenAid to ensure easy Christmas cookie baking. Resigning myself to my fate, I put on my clashing snow pants and big winter jacket and went outside.

Due to my own laziness and stupidity, I hadn't purchased a shovel before the storm hit, so all I had to get myself out from under 10 inches of snow was one of those orange foam Sno-Brooms. Luckily, I'd had the foresight to grab a spot just before a driveway, so nobody could park in front of me. I figured I'd just pull out of the spot instead of getting the snow jammed under my wheels while navigating between two cars.

I pushed the fluffy stuff off the windshield. I got as much off the roof as I could reach. I started the car, then used the Sno-Broom to clear some of the drifted snow away from the wheels. After surveying the scene, I got in the car, removed my gloves, and shifted into drive.

"Come on," I said to the car as I eased on the gas. And without any trouble at all, I was free of my spot.

It couldn't possibly have gone that easy, could it? Is this just dumb luck? How did I get a non-SUV out of ten inches of snow without a shovel? Although I kind of needed one to get out of the Dunkin' Donuts parking lot on my way to the highway. It was eerily reminiscent of the demolition derby pits I have seen.

Once I get my laptop working on the home WiFi, I'll post some pictures of my epic 2-hour drive. It was captivating stuff.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Shoes For George Bush

If I had a shoe on (What? I'm an unemployed blogger. You should be happy I'm wearing pants and have bathed in the past 24 hours), I'd be throwing it at George Bush for this move.

"Doctors and other healthcare providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience," Health and Human Services Secretary Michael O. Leavitt said in a statement.

So now the federal government can cut funding to any state or local health care facility that doesn't allow wingnuts employees with a "conscience" to not treat someone if it violates their personal beliefs. Bush did this now so it will go into effect before Barack Obama takes office, and will probably stay on the books because it's a long, arduous process to repeal it. Obama will most likely be too busy trying to save the economy as we know it to bother with this right away.

Just the name of the rule bothers me. "Right of conscience." Like women who get abortions or want birth control pills to stop the mind-numbing cramps they get once a month are just self-interested harlots bent on destroying society and only these chosen few medical professionals with a conscience can stop them.

In the opinion of this birth-control-taking, pro-choice harlot, if you have the mental capacity to have a conscience, you're smart enough to know that going into the medical profession involves doing some things you'd rather not. Like cleaning up various bodily fluids, dealing with uncooperative patients, or watching someone go against your medical advice.

But you deal with it because that's in the job description. If you don't like doling out birth control or performing abortions, work for a center that has values more in line with your own. Don't make yourself a liability to an already-struggling clinic.

Is it Jan. 20 yet?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sallie Mae Be Evil

I don't believe that Bernie Madoff is a saint. But the one moneymaking institution that has my dander up at present is Sallie Mae.

As you may recall me writing earlier this month, the company's policy during the worst economic downturn in modern times is to charge debt-addled college graduates a fee for deferring their loans while searching for a new job, and then only gives them three months without payments. When another of the many student loan companies with which I do business called me to get my mailing address, I asked them what I needed to do to defer my loans.

"Send us a letter explaining which unemployment agency you've registered with, and tell us you want Option A," the very helpful operator told me.

"There are no fees?"

"No. And you'll get six months without payments. If you still don't have a job after that, just let us know and we'll start another six-month freeze."


But it seems that Sallie Mae's lack of sympathy isn't only for the unemployed. The company also doesn't give a damn about dead soldiers.

"We are asking that you forgive Ian [McVey]'s loans as his federal loans are being forgiven on the basis of Ian's choice of service to our country as a patriot and so that our family may not have to bear these financial burdens while we deal with the inconsolable grief over the senseless, tragic and untimely loss of our son. While life has not been fair, we pray that you will be."

Sallie Mae responded with a computer-generated letter that, aside from a "Please accept our condolences for your loss" stuck in the middle, was a demand for $53,144.

I can't wait to see the day when Sallie Mae's executives are made to sit in front of Congress and beg forgiveness. I hope that our legislators show them the same level of mercy they've given their customers—none.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Longer the Alliteration Station?

Over a couple of beers at the Pour House tonight (ah, irony), my friends and I were talking about the doomed local media scene. One friend pointed out a very disturbing trend I had not noticed until it was mentioned.

Channel 7 has cut way back on its use of alliteration.

That's like. . . Boston magazine cutting back on its high-end lifestyle reporting. Or the Globe cutting back on lifeless lifestyle pieces. Or the Herald cutting back on conservative ire. It is just a move to deny its true identity, and should therefore not be done.

For example: The News Station is leading its reports about the ongoing mess north of Boston with the headline "Ice Storm." Bo-ring. How about "Staying Warm After the Storm?" "Ice Isn't Nice?"

Surely the station's crack team of writers could come up with something more—wait for it—compelling than "Ice Storm"? Or have the alliterative geniuses all been laid off as the media economy continues its downward spiral?

Unemployed Dancing Fools

Over a couple of beers the other night, a fellow unemployed layabout and I decided that while we're in-between jobs, we should learn the dance from Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video.

Neither of us have any sense of grace. How hard could it possibly be?

But it got me thinking about all the other popular dances I've attempted to learn in my life. As a teenager, there was the bondage-lite classic, "If" by Janet Jackson.

But I never could get the arms and legs to move in unison. Nor could I find a strapping bald guy to dangle from the ceiling at the tender age of 13.

Even a white girl from the suburbs managed to pull this one off.

But this would completely end me. For real.

However, I feel completely comfortable with all the moves displayed in this classic scene. Especially the hopping from side to side while shaking my head. I'm a big fan of that one.

If I can do the Peanuts dance, certainly I can handle "Single Ladies." Right?

Gettin' Bizzay in the People's Republic

According to QualityHealth.com [via Beantown Bloggery], Cambridge is the 10th most sexually active city in America. The site ranked cities by birth rates, birth control sales, Amazon.com sales figures for books about sex, and erotica sales.

This academic hub, which houses both Harvard and M.I.T., is also the city with the most relationship savvy: 58 percent of its romantic Amazon.com purchases are books about relationships. Cambridge's lower-than-average birth rates kept it from earning a top spot on our list, but it's interesting to note that in 1991 Massachusetts became the first location to institute a statewide condom availability program in its high schools.

Just because we liberals are smart enough not to get pregnant doesn't mean we're not sexy. We're just sexy in that Tina Fey, librarian glasses sense of sexy.

I'm not surprised that the capital of my home state is one of the least sexually-active cities in America. God knows I never got laid there.

Known as the Renaissance City, Providence has struggled to improve its poverty rates over the past few decades and is now touted as one the best quality-of-life cities in the country. Even so, sex is not its strong suit: Birth and fertility rates remain low, and its contraceptive and erotica sales seem to have stalled.

That's because one of my favorite sex-positive sex shops, Miko, closed earlier this year. There's nothing less sexy than walking through the aforementioned poor neighborhoods to hit up an Amazing Superstore to buy a cheap plastic sex toy and a low-budget gang bang porno.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beacon Hill Makes Me Doubt My Sanity

I spend one day writhing in agony due to a stomach bug, and wake up to find the whole world has gone mad. Bernard Cohen is "resigning," as Jon Keller so eloquently put it, and Gov. Deval Patrick hopes to replace him with James Aloisi. Who helped plan the Big Dig. Which is a large part of why our transportation system is royally screwed. How, exactly, is this a good idea?

I'm partial to Cohen, who hasn't been afraid to speak the truth about the state's doomed transportation systems, and am sad to see him go. (But, let me be clear—I'm unemployed, and wouldn't take that job for all the cushy benefits and pensions you could throw at me. It's like being made captain of a ship that is actively sinking.)

And in other crazy news, House Speaker Sal DiMasi has taken up the reformer's mantle in this transit funding brouhaha.

THE CHINESE SYMBOL for crisis is a combination of the characters for danger and opportunity.

I'm pretty sure that's how some of the sorority girls justified their ill-advised tattoos when I was in college. But after the cheesy start, DiMasi makes the case that a toll hike is a dumb way to try to save the Turnpike. Instead, DiMasi argues, we need to reform these agencies, then raise the gas tax.

Which is exactly what Senate President Therese Murray argued in a Globe editorial last month. So, if my math is correct, two out of three Beacon Hill leaders are on the same page about how to handle this crisis. While the third is busy appointing a man to lead the troubled agencies who helped put them on the road to hell.

This is going to get very interesting.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Damn Kids

This weekend, I attended a kid's birthday party in Salem. Despite the dangerous combination of seven-year-olds, drums, and my epic hangover, it was a good time. The party had a rock and roll theme, which was greatly enhanced by a three-year-old boy who vomited profusely all over his mother.

Seriously, it was like something out of The Exorcist. I don't know how a little body could produce so much bile. He went home with his puke-soaked mother, and I helped clean up the remnants before another kid fell in it. (And by help clean it up, I ripped up paper towels for my friend, who was doing that thing mothers do when they don't care how foul something is, they'll clean it if it needs to be done.)

I thought he might have eaten too much. But I later found out that the boy's sisters and mother had recently dealt with the stomach bug. And, lo and behold, I woke up today with stomach cramps. I suffered through a meeting this morning, and broke out in hives toward the end of it. Hives. What the hell kind of virus is this?

As I write this, I'm laying very still on my bed, hoping not to disturb whatever part of my intestines that are causing me so much pain. And reminding myself to get my tubes tied when I go into the hospital from whatever serious medical condition this virulent germ causes me. I have stuff to do, body. Sack up and fight it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Other Shoe Flies

I'm sure you've seen this by now.

Huh. Guess that Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi is as impatient as I am for Barack Obama to take office.

A few things:

  1. For a man who's aged so much during his eight years in office, ol' George managed to duck those size 10 loafers pretty well.
  2. But did he really have to smirk? Tossing a shoe at someone and calling him a dog is to Iraqis what flashing your headlights and flipping someone off while yelling that he's a Jeter-loving motherfucker is to Bostonians. It's a grave insult. At least try to muster up some concern.
  3. The Secret Service was apparently so busy trying to memorize the code names for the Obama family that they were slow to respond to this shoe-throwing maniac. He threw one shoe, then had enough time to take the other shoe off and hum it at the President before anybody tackled him.
  4. Poor Dana Perino is going to be telling the same story all week. "I got this shiner from a microphone. Yes, really."

In all seriousness, I'm glad the President is okay. If only because pictures of him in his wounded state may have made some easily-influenced Americans a little less upset about the horrible legacy he'll leave behind in a little more than a month.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Officially Freelancing

When I lost my job, the woman I babysit for said I had one week to advertise myself as an unemployed writer. "After that," she said, "you're a freelancer."

I guess that's true. Not only can you find my work here and on Blue Mass Group, but I'm also doing some work for NESN.com. Today I wrote about what the new Red Sox logos mean for the MLB-licensed caskets.

Be sure to check it out.

You Are Now Free to Move About the Commonwealth

Susan Wornick just said clarified the meaning of the State of Emergency declared by Gov. Deval Patrick. It means he can activate the National Guard and apply for federal disaster aid.

"It does not prohibit travel, so you are free to move around the state," Wornick said. Thank goodness. I have to celebrate my 10,000th day of life this evening.

Is it wrong that I really want to hop in the car and check out the two inches of ice that fell in other parts of the state? Because I'm seeing the pictures on TV, but when I look out my window in Somerville and see only puddles, I can't believe it looks like that only a few miles away.

Treading on A-Walk

Can we talk about Adrian Walker for a second?

I know I'm going to catch some flack for ragging on the Globe columnist. "Hey, Derjue, he's got a job and you don't." True enough. But I feel like an awful lot of his columns lately have been mea culpas explaining how he's been hoodwinked by a scam artist.

As Adam Gaffin points out, Walker got a dishonorable mention in the FBI's complaint against former State Senator Dianne Wilkerson. He said he didn't suspect anything when Wilkerson called him up to rail against the licensing process she was manipulating. Today, Walker explains how he was fooled by Jake Severino, a young man who faked a brain tumor.

The funny thing is, Walker's September column about Severino notes that doctors didn't believe his claims.

"He made the rounds of emergency rooms and they thought he was a junkie looking for drugs," [Severino's mother-in-law Lisa] Donovan said.

Referring to his wife, Kelli, one EMT told him, "You might be fooling this little girl, but you're not fooling me.' "

So if there were suspicious about his diagnosis, wouldn't you, the columnist, ask to see some medical records? Or at least talk to the doctors he was seeing to get another tearjerker quote about his grim prognosis?

Maybe this kid was a great scammer and presented Walker with some convincing fake medical bills. But Walker should have taken this kid's tragic story with a grain of salt.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taking Joy in the 12 Pains of Christmas

As I procrastinate on writing my Christmas cards this evening, I read esteemed media critic and Facebook friend Dan Kennedy's Twitter feed, which is essentially a liveblog of his frustrations with printing address labels for his Christmas cards from Word. (Kudos to him for even trying—I go the old-school route and hand-write addresses. Which is why I am procrastinating.)

It reminds me of that holiday classic, "The 12 Pains of Christmas." Which got me to thinking—this 1987 hit could stand an update for its 21st birthday. Some of the pains, like writing Christmas cards and dealing with in-laws, are the eternal. But there are so many more pains in this modern world.

Like printing address labels from Word. Remembering to TiVo the classic holiday specials that the networks barely advertise anymore. Dealing with the shame when your greenwashed friends come over and notice the lights on your tree aren't LEDs and tell you you're single-handedly destroying the planet. The awkward Facebook friend request from your coworker's husband the day after the office Christmas party. Having to remember to say "Holiday Party" and not "Christmas Party" so you're not considered an insensitive goon. Remembering to pay back child support before literally making a spectacle of yourself.

I could go on.

But give me your best ideas in the comments. If we get some good ones, maybe we can revisit the holiday parody. Provided we can find a talented singer. I don't want to be the one to provide the 13th pain of Christmas.

Happy People Dwell in Faneuil Hall

I was killing time downtown after an appointment I had got delayed today, so I decided to grab a bite at Quincy Market. I managed to score one of the coveted low tables with a seat. Across the table from me, and old man was telling a couple of tourists about the wonders of train travel. Once the visitors got up, I knew the old man was going to chat me up. Since my mind was on the meeting and the astronomical parking fee I was going to have to pay, I kept my responses short.

Midway through my meal, a bald guy took a seat across the table from me, next to the old man.

"How are you today?" He asked me.

"Good," I said, taking a bite of my pizza. As he sat quietly, I felt kind of bad for not keeping the conversation going.

"How are you?" I asked as he was between bites on his sausage, egg, and cheese on croissant.

"Stupendous," bald guy replied emphatically.

"That's a pretty bold statement for such a rainy day."

"Hey, at least it's not snowing!" Bald guy said with a smile.

The old man had clearly found a kindred spirit in this happy bald guy, and started talking to him about his cross-country trek on Amtrak.

"They named me Traveler of the Week," the old man told the bald guy.

"That's wonderful," said bald guy.

I watched as the duo enthusiastically discussed Boston sports teams and the old man's work with the sports teams in his California community.

"Making people happy is what makes me happy," old man said. "I always say that happiness is an inside job."

"You have to be right here," bald guy said, pointing to his heart, "before you can be happy for the world."

With that, I politely excused myself, tossed my trash, and went to check out the ironic t-shirts at Urban Outfitters. That much happiness on a rainy afternoon was enough to make me lose my overpriced and underflavored mall food lunch.

Tom Menino Gets Lit

For one of the last Go To Guide event newsletters I wrote at my old job, I made a joke about the holiday season being more stressful for Mayor Tom Menino than it is for the average citizen. Turns out, attending tree lightings from Boston Common to West Roxbury pays big political dividends.

His poll numbers suggest that showing up for tree lightings, school openings, ribbon cuttings, award ceremonies, and store openings is part of the popularity he has built during 15 years in office. Fifty-four percent of respondents in a Globe poll in April said they have personally met the mayor, who had a job-approval rating above 70 percent.

Somewhere in City Hall, rumored mayoral hopeful Mike Flaherty is crafting a press release in which he says he will supervise the addition of lights to every menorah display in Boston. For all eight days of Hanukkah. Suck on that, Menino!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can We Form a Boston Chapter of ASSME?

Shoot. Looks like I might need to make a trip to New York next week for this wonderful event.

Open bars are de riguer at media parties, and they're just about the only fringe benefit of working in this godforsaken industry. But what happens when the parties themselves start to disappear, like what's happening this holiday season? NO MORE FREE BOOZE! Portfolio's Mixed Media reports that there is a new group called "ASSME: the American Society of Shitcanned Media Elites"—which I guess I should probably join—that will carry on the noble tradition of an open bar in season where everyone else is a god-damned Scrooge. If you're laid-off and broke, you can still keep on drinking—at least for one magical night.

Come on, Boston media elite. Let's form our own chapter of this much-needed club. Between my laid-off ass, Bob Lobel, the printing press workers at the Herald, and the bought-out staffers of the Globe, it would be quite a time.

It Wasn't Chuck

I've tried to give Chuck Turner the benefit of the doubt. To paraphrase what John Tobin told the Globe when the charges against the Boston City Councilor came out, he always seemed like a passionate ideologue, not a money-hungry politician.

Unlike Dianne Wilkerson, who most people always suspected was out for Number One, what with all the nonpayment of taxes and alleged perjury and whatnot.

But, Chuck. Come on, dude. Your assertion that the photo stills from the FBI video might have been faked is really far-out. Even for you.

"I've seen some grainy photographs. I don't know if that's me. They doctor photographs," Turner told The Associated Press. "I know it looks something like me, but the reality is I haven't seen the real photo. There hasn't been an analysis done on the photographs."

Yes, Chuck, a photograph can be faked or altered. Jezebel has a regular feature about the nefarious applications of Photoshop. But it's usually used to remove a blemish or take a couple of inches off the hips, not incriminate an innocent victim.

But, hey, maybe Turner is right. I'm no Photoshop expert. Because if I were, I would have added the following items to the incriminating still in question:

  • A dimebag of weed
  • One of those goldfish you win at a carnival
  • A chocolate donut
  • The latest Miley Cyrus CD
  • Deep Pockets' Christmas list
  • A Rubber Ducky
  • A bootleg copy of Twilight

In closing, I leave you with this. Because if I have it stuck in my head, so should you.

I Best Not Catch this Flick on YouTube

I am not what women's magazines call a sexpert. The time that elapses between my boyfriends or paramours or man-friends or whatever the hell you want to call them is typically so long that I figure the physics of sex have changed drastically since I last participated when I take up with a new partner.

But there are a few things I know never change. One, always use at least one method of birth control. Two, pull the comforter down before getting busy. And three, never, EVER allow pictures or videos you take during your trysts to leave the scene of the action.

Do we have to teach this in sex ed too? It seems that the answer is yes, since a new study reveals that one out of five teenagers are sending naked pictures of themselves via cellphone or email.

I take this as an additional reason to raise my children Amish.

I just don't understand how kids can allow this to happen after some of those tween stars they love so much have found their private pictures splashed in the tabloids after the images fell into the wrong hands. For people who use social networking technology so much, they're awfully unaware of how it works.

I know this is just an extension of teenagers' inability to think of the consequences of their actions, hormones, yadda yadda. But think of this, kids—If you put it out there, your parents might see it.

If that doesn't ice your hot little teenage veins, nothing will.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Less Talking to Reporters, More Talking to the Unemployed

At times like this, I wish I had the new media know-how to splice footage of me watching this WBZ report about the taxed employees of the state's unemployment call centers.

"It takes the kind of person who looks at people like they're people [to do the job]," one woman tells the WBZ reporter.

Yeah, somebody should have told that to the completely unhelpful person who filed my claim a couple of weeks ago.

"Behind every call is someone who is unemployed. And this is their lifeline to the desperately-needed check," the reporter voices-over.

Hey, lady—if it's so damn important, let the workers you interview answer the phone. I called yesterday to get some help on how to claim my severance payment, and I was told to call back because the operators were too busy. So stop asking these people if they cry or pray for the teeming refuse of which I am part, and let them take a call.

I expect to see these people working like children in one of Kathie Lee Gifford's sweatshops. Ten minute lunches, nine hour days, and only one day off per week. Either that, or hire some new people to help ease the load. As more people lose their jobs, these staffers will need all the help they can get to explain the confusing process of collecting unemployment in Massachusetts to callers.

Good News, Bad News: Corruption Edition

Good News: Federal authorities have arrested a white guy associated with a high-profile corruption probe.

Bad News: This white guy does not live in Boston. It's Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was allegedly selling off Barack Obama's senate seat and withholding financial help from the troubled Tribune company until it fired editors who were critical of his governorship.

Good News: Boston's (allegedly) corrupt politicians still have the honor of the best surveillance photo.

Bad News: Hey, FBI? We're still waiting to see a caucasian in cuffs in the Dejavu liquor license debacle. Any time now.

Ellen In Prime Time!

There are two things I really like unemployment. One, I can get up an hour and a half later than I did when I was working. Two, I get to watch Ellen.

I'm sure I've waxed poetic about how Ellen DeGeneres approaches problems with her dry sense of humor and doesn't preach and yell like some talk show doyennes I could name, Oprah. For instance, Ellen just pointed out that Saran Wrap and aluminum foil boxes have little tabs to keep the rolls in place. I seriously had no clue.

When I mentioned my love for Ellen on Facebook yesterday, one of my friends added that it was one of her favorite parts of maternity leave (the other being her new child). I then suggested that Ellen should be moved to prime time so those few people who still have jobs can watch it.

I think the idea could totally work. NBC has given Jay Leno a prime-time talk show to keep him from making a move to a competing network. God knows the only good programs during prime time nowadays are 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, and Gossip Girl. There's still plenty of time for a prime-time talk show, networks. I don't want to miss my fix of dancing comediennes once I get a new gig.

I'm totally going to start a petition to move Ellen to prime-time. Not like I have anything else to do today.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Recession Hits Local Aid

Raise your hand if you didn't see this one coming.

“There's going to have to be some cuts made across the board in fiscal 2010,” [House Speaker Sal] DiMasi told a group of reporters in his office. “Now, how much of a cut local aid will take is a matter of how much, it’s not a matter of whether they will take a cut or not … I suggest it’s going to be at least 5 [percent], and as much as 10 percent.”

Hope you kids liked going to school while you could. From now on, all learning will be done via the Noggin network, or perhaps via PlayStation 3 downloads.

DiMasi says he'll try to offset the cuts by allowing towns to tax meals or telephone poles. Which should be a great solution. Because everyone knows that the average resident of Main Street, Massachusetts is dining out a lot lately. We've got plenty of money to spare. Yes, Mr. Speaker, please balance your budget on my big, fat wallet!

Sorry. DiMasi made me a little sore with this quip.

When asked whether he planned to serve the full two-year term, he said, "I don't know. Do you think you'll have your job two years from now?"

Matt Viser is from the Globe, Sal. He'll be lucky if he keeps his job or current salary through tomorrow. It's just cruel to make fun of the journalists during these trying times.

Just When I Was Confident in the Inherent Goodness of Mankind...

Out of the kindness of her heart (or the instability of her mind, depending on how you look at things), my grandmother has loaned me her car while she's out of town for a few months. One of the beautiful things about my area of Somerville is that you need not be a resident to park on the street. This morning happened to be one of the last street cleaning days of the year, so I parked further down the road than normal. I left the car in pristine condition.

But when I trekked down the hill to use it to run a couple of errands this afternoon, a strange sight met my eye. On the side of the car, I saw what I thought was diet Coke remnants splashed on the driver's side doors. Since it's cold out, I didn't think much of it. When I got in the driver's seat, I saw that there was goo on the windshield as well. I turned on the car, and tried to wipe it away with the windshield wipers and fluid.

Turns out, it was probably chicken grease that landed on the vehicle. After one pass of the wipers, I couldn't see a damn thing out the window for all the greasy white streaks on it.

I managed to clear off a small hole to peer through, and cautiously drove around the block to get a spot closer to my place. I went back inside and grabbed my grease-cutting cleaning products, a roll of paper towels, and set to work.

Eventually, I got the crap off the windshield enough where I could complete my errands, but it was still streaky and gross in the middle of the glass where my arms couldn't reach. After I wiped the wipers with some Lysol kitchen cleaner, they stopped spreading the grease and the car is back to normal.

My mood, however, still is not right. You've got to be some kind of asshole to throw chicken grease on a car. It's not trash night, so this can't be blamed on a burst garbage bag. Did some jerk get angry because he didn't get a spot on the correct side of the street for cleaning day, and decided to take it out on the car with out-of-state plates?

Whoever it was who fucked with my car, I hope he or she enjoyed themselves. I hope they delighted in watching the chicken grease roll down the doors. I hope they laughed and laughed at the idea of an unemployed woman heading out to run a few errands in her nearly 80-year-old grandmother's car, which was loaned to her out of the goodness of someone's heart, and instead finding it messed up not even 24 hours after it arrived in the city.

They'd better hope I don't find them. Or else I'm going to sic my grandmother and grandfather on them when they get back in a few months. Trust me, they'd rather have me or the cops coming for them than my outspoken French grandmother or stoic German grandfather.

Failing that: I hope he or she dies in a fire.

The Crack Addict Is a Person In Your Neighborhood

I have nothing against panhandling, or people who have to resort to less-than-conventional methods to earn a few bucks. (I'm going to attempt to cash in my empties to finance my Monday ritual of Gossip Girl and pizza.) But this Globe story about Mattapan panhandler Robbie Felder is kind of bizarre.

For the first half of the story, we're given the heartwarming tale of a man who wears clothes that are too big for him as he begs for money, but is well-loved by the community in which he panhandles.

Few [panhandle] like Felder. At 50 years old, he is ragged but well spoken, polite but introverted. His fingernails are grungy, but his graying beard is well-groomed. He is slightly bent over as he shuffles his feet from car to car, his arms limp by his side.

"No one ever complains about Robbie; he's just a fixture," said Captain James M. Claiborne, who runs the Mattapan police station on Felder's block.

Since the police are cool with him, it must be some kind of mental problem or a strong anti-society sentiment that's keeping Felder on the street, right?

Felder is addicted to crack cocaine, but he doesn't like to talk about it. It would be like wearing a sign, "I'm an addict," he says, and that's not good for business.

Last week, city officials announced that Boston will spend $26 million to help cut down on violent crime in troubled areas of the city. Some of that money will go toward keeping drug dealers from turning to violence.

This is a good thing, but doesn't it kind of undercut the effort when police officers knowingly look the other way when a prominent member of their community admits to having a problem with drugs? Shouldn't they get Felder some help? Or maybe try to find out where he's getting his fix?

John Buonomo Is Gone, But Not Forgotten

This weekend was the first time I remembered to get off the train at Lechmere and photograph the sign outside the Middlesex Registry of Deeds offices. Now, that might sound crazy. But check this out.


Wait... who is register of probate?


Not so much. Which someone at the Registry of Probate knows, since they gave the sign the "out, damn spot" treatment.


Somebody's going to have to power-wash the hell out of that sign before the new guy takes office.

The custodian may also want to sweep the discarded condom wrapper off the front steps of the building too.


Shocker: Mitt Romney Wants to Be President

I'm happy to see that former governor Mitt Romney has gotten smart. Instead of using his own money to further his political career, he's collecting funds from like-minded conservatives through his Free and Strong America PAC. Ostensibly, he's supposed to be using this money for Republican candidates around the country. But the Globe reports Romney is spending most of the money to position himself for a possible run in 2012.

The former Massachusetts governor has raised $2.1 million for his Free and Strong America political action committee. But only 12 percent of the money has been spent distributing checks to Romney's fellow Republicans around the country.

Although the broadsheet paints some of Romney's mailings as misleading, anybody who donated to the cause because their funds would go to some tight state senate race in Idaho is a bigger ditz than Sarah Palin. Donors like Romney's politics (or his hair) and they want to advance his cause in any way they can.

If a few bucks land in Saxby Chambliss' lap, great. But, really, contributors want to see Romney sashaying around, carrying the conservative torch until the next presidential election cycle begins.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Clark Rockefeller Haunts My Dreams

Last night, I was sleeping (as you do), and I had a dream that I was a journalist who was visiting Clark Rockefeller in jail. In my dream, Rockefeller was the exact opposite of the mellow guy we've seen in jailhouse interviews and court appearances. He was struggling to get out of his cuffs, which was giving the guard problems.

There was a very well-dressed black female inmate there as well, who was making snarky remarks about how low-paid prison guards are. The scene was fast turning into chaos when Rockefeller asked the guard if he could have his feet restrained instead of his hands. The guard obliged, and I then knew that Rockefeller was going to get away.

Sure enough, the kidnapper managed to form a cat's cradle with his restraints (hey, it's a dream—this kind of thing can happen in my subconscious), got loose, and jumped up with a cartoony cackle and ran out the door. He took the female inmate with him, and I remember being happy that we'd get some more crazy Rockefeller stories because he was free.

I don't know what this means. But it was just so strange I needed to share.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Twilight of Overt Sexuality

Maybe this makes me a bad person, but I'd rather any children I have be inundated with trampy archetypes than messages that say too much lust will cause them to die. The Globe reports that kids these days are into romance, not the hit it and quit it messages I was getting as a teenager in the late '90s.

"If [the main characters from Twilight] kiss too deeply, he'll destroy her. It really equates desire with death," said Amy Boesky, who teaches English at Boston College and wrote two of the novels in the "Beacon Street Girls" series under the pseudonym Annie Bryant. "I can see why girls find it enthralling, but I also find it troubling."

You and me both, lady.

I read Pride and Prejudice and The Time Traveler's Wife. I love a good romance. But I don't believe that pushing a moralistic tale or purity rings on children is any healthier than the sexy schoolgirl costume Britney Spears wore to fame when I was in high school. Too much of either school of thought is bad for kids. My theory is that we teach kids the basic mechanics of how sex works, inform them of the risks, and let them make up their own minds.

Nowadays, we have to recognize that teenagers are ultimately the ones who decide what they do with their bodies. Whether they think they'll be made undead by a sexy vampire or beg their boyfriend to hit them one more time is a choice they have to make.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I'm Your Weathergirl

After an epic struggle to get back to East Cambridge on the E Line, I stood and waited for the bus. Next to me stood a guy named John, who was chatting with one of his buddies about a kid who'd just strolled off the train wearing nothing more than a gray wifebeater and gray sweatpants.

"Lookit that kid. Strollin' around and showin' off his muscles. I did that when I was a teenagah too. I'd go and wait for the bus in Ahlington and when it was late, I'd sit there and shivah," John said.

His quieter friend nodded. Then John changed the topic.

"It's a beautiful sunset, isn't it? Look at the blue. See those clouds?" The skies were full of clouds that looked like speedbumps or ridges on a washboard. "Those are serious clouds. That means in two and a half days, we'll get snow from the Great Lakes. You watch."

So, there you have it. Some guy named John says it's going to snow Monday afternoon.

Today's Unemployment Winner and Loser

Winner: The Globe's Names Column

Despite the relentless teasing I gave Boston's broadsheet during my tenure at BoMag, Paysha Rhone very kindly gave me a hat-tip in today's report. And even linked to this blog! Stay strong, my jounalist brethren.

Loser: Sallie Mae

The nation's unemployment rate has hit 6.7 percent last month. (Look, Mom, I'm a statistic!) Certainly debt-saddled college graduates like myself have been calling the company for help. I finally decided to bite the bullet today and ask for my payments to be delayed until I get a new gig.

Turns out, the company charges a $150 fee to defer the loans (which is the equivalent of one of my monthly payments), and then only gives a three month respite.

Three months?!
In the biggest recession of my lifetime? Even the cash-strapped government has extended unemployment benefits. I think the company is going to have to reconsider that course of action. Or else we're going to see Sallie's executives looking for a bailout as all us unemployed young professional default on our loans because of their merciless repayment rules.

Hell, even my landlord said she's willing to work with me if I need to break my lease or can't make my rent. And she has something tangible she can take away from me.

My Key to Happiness

Today's Globe reports that happiness is like that horrible Haley Joel Osment movie, Pay It Forward. In that if you are happy and hang around with happy people, the feeling gets magnified and you go out and hunt some bison. Or something.

Since I am a woman who just lost her job and was living paycheck to paycheck to begin with, you'd think my gainfully employed friends would be avoiding me like the plague as I wrangle with my finances and become miserable. But I'm actually feeling pretty good. At least until I have to figure out how to pay my rent and bills on my dwindling severance funds.

Why? Because unlike you still-working suckers, I know I'm screwed.

The past few weeks have been hell for one of my friends as she copes with rumors that layoffs are coming. One rumor said her department was safe, then another came along and said none would be entirely spared the misery. She needed to develop a Plan B, then abandoned it when she learned she'd be keeping her job. For now.

Over on Morrissey Boulevard, they're bracing for a contentious meeting about possible pay cuts and layoffs. (My favorite part of the memo Adam Reilly blogged? "Is ‘collaboration’ blindsiding BNG members with layoffs three weeks before Thanksgiving?" Some publications in this town do it two days before the holiday. Which was actually OK, because I got those extra days of pay.)

So if you're miserable because you're doing a ton of work for a pittance because you're afraid you'll lose your job if you don't, drop me a line. If you buy me a drink and some food, I'll bring my happy self to you and spread the unemployment joy your way. Because I'm a giver. And looking to cut down on my grocery bill.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Baby's First Ticket

I have never given birth (a fact my grandmother reminds me of every time I see her), nor have I ever driven someone to the hospital who is in the throes of labor. But if I were with child, I'd be sure to pick a hospital that is close to home. You know, just to make sure I don't ruin my car seats with amniotic fluid because traffic keeps me from getting to the hospital I chose, which is no where near my home.

Though the Davises live about 30 miles away in Dracut, Jennifer Davis, 38, wanted to have her baby at Mount Auburn, where she had also given birth to her 7-year-old son, Brendan.

"For 10 months we had been saying, 'As long as I don't go into labor during rush hour' - which we did," said Davis[.]

So this family knew there could be a problem by choosing Mt. Auburn as the place where they'd deliver their daughter, but chose to do it anyway? The cop who pulled the couple over for traveling in the breakdown lane certainly isn't the hero of this story, but let's not completely shower the parents in sympathy either. Perhaps there should have been a rush-hour Plan B in which they drove to Lowell General Hospital instead of Mt. Auburn. Just a thought.

Herald FTW!

In the waning days of employment, I took the Herald to task for its weak front cover stories. But this week, the tabloid is killing it.

First there was Matt Amorello serving up some French fries.

Today, we get cattle breaking through the window of the Red Line to accompany the news that the MBTA is removing seats on some trains to accommodate more passengers.

Well done, friends.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Whatever Parody You Like

I don't know much about the artist, but I know I love T.I.'s music. Especially the song he did with Rihanna. I can't explain my deep love for her, but it's undeniable and true.

But perhaps the best song of T.I.'s is "Whatever You Like." Not only is it catchy on its own, but it has inspired several parodies that you should see. Like, right now.

Daily Intel links to Alphacat, who performs the song as Barack Obama.

"My country can get whatever it wants." Brilliant.

Then there's the highest form of compliment a musician can receive—a Weird Al parody. While it's no "White and Nerdy," I hope Mr. Yankovic decides to make a video for this clip, which is the first he ever distributed online as a single and not part of a full album.

He's a super-geek and old enough to be my father. But I'd totally hit that.

Here are some adorable children in Atlanta rapping that they can vote however they like. This isn't so much parody as it is antifreeze for my cold, cynical heart.


I hope those kids didn't Google their performance and land on this clip.

It's totally inappropriate for the young folks, but the line "Late night sex so wet and so tight/ is probably something I won't be getting but I'm gonna do it right" should be eligible for a Grammy.

So thank you, T.I., for creating a song that appeals to school children, undergrads, and those performers who stand to make a buck of the election of our next president.

Ray-Ray Goes Bye-Bye

There's something surprising in this Herald story about Rachael Ray's recent Boston book signing. And I'm not talking about the revelation that Ray isn't as sickeningly perky behind the scenes as she is before an audience.

Still signing, the 40-year-old celebrity chef dismissed a question about favorite recipes - “I have no favorite foods” - one about her now-defunct Dunkin’ Donuts gig - “I am no longer associated with Dunkin’ Donuts. But I still drink coffee”[.]

Since Ray's been driving me insane since she started shilling for the Canton-based chain, I'm not sad to see her go. But I recall her contract running until 2010.

Maybe some of you entertainment legal eagles can fill me in on the nuances of endorsement deals. Is the 2010 date cited in the E! article like a baseball contract, and the last two years could have been her option years?

Or am I right in thinking that Dunks got tired of us questioning her dedication to its brand and exercised its Starbucks-drinking clause and gave her the boot? I guess I shouldn't question this good fortune, but I'm curious. If you know the reason, let me know.

Notice to Gawker: Clark Rockefeller Was Awesome the Whole Time

It seems that Gawker has had some trouble with Boston-based stories this week. Adam Gaffin at Universal Hub noticed that a law firm that the site thought was a fake is actually real. Now I'm all riled up because the New York-based site just realized the Clark Rockefeller case is fascinating because Vanity Fair wrote about it.

Hey, Gawker? Rockefeller has been intriguing since the days when those dying newspapers were covering him.

When I was with my previous employer (sob), my colleage Francis Storrs and I were blogging about this mystery man from the time he was nabbed in Baltimore with his daughter. We had a peg because he'd lived in Boston with her and tried to paint himself as a Brahmin. You had a peg because he claimed to be a member of the famous New York family. But you only have two posts (including today's) about him.

I know it was an election year, but surely you could have found some time this summer to write about the Rockefeller who turned out to be just a German immigrant?

Also, the my very awesome former colleague (sniffle) wrote a story on Rockefeller's time in Boston in last month's issue of Boston magazine, so Vanity Fair is a little late to the magazine profile party. I'll take this as further proof that Boston is better than New York and will move on.

License to Booze

Aside from giving us the greatest undercover video still since Plunder Dome, the investigation into Dianne Wilkerson also revealed what restaurateurs have known for years—that the process of getting a liquor license in Boston is harder to figure out than a Rubik's Cube. And much like those jerks who claim to have solved the puzzle but really just peeled the stickers off, most people who succeed are cheating.

Erm, excuse me. Have hired a law firm that has an astonishing success rate with the Boston Licensing Board. Which is just further proof that the system is in serious need of an overhaul.

The Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a business-funded city watchdog, says liquor licenses should be handed out by the city with more oversight.

"Why not give the city the authority to manage it?" bureau president Samuel R. Tyler said.

Here's what the city should do—hire me as Liquor Czarina. I'll allow any booze-serving hopeful the chance to obtain a license. I will judge these purveyors of drunkenness on the same criteria as the lawyers at McDermott, Quilty & Miller, but I'll be working for the city and judging everyone equally.

And each establishment will have to bring a signature drink to me to make sure they're properly serving customers. I have a taste for everything from Narragansett Beer to delicious designer cocktails, so I'll make sure every cheap beer is served cold and in a can, and that the balance between mixer and liquor is appropriate. Everyone (especially me) wins!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Seal Station

I had my television tuned to WHDH as I was preparing to leave the house for trivia night. I use the station as a kind of background noise, really only paying attention when the weather comes on.

As I zipped up my boots around 4:30, the inanity of one particular story started to creep into my consciousness. (I preface this with the disclaimer that I wasn't paying complete attention to the item, and that the clip won't load on my computer for some reason, so some of the details may be a little off.) I started paying attention when I noticed Channel 7 had decided to trot out the breathless "JUST ONE STATION" logo.

For a story about a seal on a beach.

It would have been one thing if the story was a quick 30-second item that none of Channel 7's competitors elected not to pick up. But it just. kept. going.

There were interviews with eyewitnesses, who essentially told Byron Barnett that the seal rolled one way, then rolled back the other way. Children were delighted. Then Barnett chased the animal's rescuers down the beach as they carried the seal off the sand for observation. One made a snippy remark about how all the attention made it hard to save the animal, but Barnett wouldn't let their disdain keep him from the 4:30 show's big story.

I appreciate the cuteness of marine life as much as the next person, but the world has bigger problems than a little seal who couldn't manage to get himself off the beach. Unless we're using this as a metaphor for the continuing erosion of capitalism as we know it. Somehow, I doubt that was the intention.

Pat Purcell Gets Into the Townie Paper Business (Again)

It seems that Matt Amorello and I would do well to become friends with Rupert Murdoch. While the former Turnpike Authority chairman and I are still unemployed, Herald owner and publisher Pat Purcell has gotten a second job from the Aussie media mogul. Purcell will be responsible for Ottaway Newspapers, Inc., which has several townie papers in Massachusetts.

Purcell will keep his gig at the Herald, and the tabloid's report indicates that Ottaway and the Herald may work together in the future. (Is that a new hyperlocal online experiment to counter the one made by Boston.com I smell cooking?) There's no talk of any layoffs or restructuring right now, so I hope my journalistic brethren at the local Ottaway papers will fare well.

I can see why Dow Jones (the parent company of Ottaway), gave Purcell the job. He's got loads of experience with community papers. Granted, it wasn't all good experience, but maybe he learned from his mistakes.

Give a Damn About Financing Your Education

When I was applying to colleges in the late 1990s, it seemed like the world was my oyster. Bill Clinton was president, and we were still living in a dot-com bubble. Credit flowed freely, and the nation's biggest problem was where Clinton stored his cigars. Everything seemed limitless.

Fast-forward through nearly a decade of George W. Bush, risky investments, and my first-ever unemployment stint, and I have to say that you college-aged kids out there shouldn't worry about attending a school that isn't your first choice.

As a spendthrift by nature, I didn't worry too much about going into debt for college. My mother warned me that it was a lot of money to pay back when I graduated, but it didn't bother me. The economy was great—surely the rising tide would lift the boat of even the most poor writers, and I'd manage.

I did attend a state school for a year (thanks again for losing my financial aid paperwork, Emerson!), and I hated it. I loathed seeing everyone I ever knew in high school. The writing program at URI was horrible. I knew I wasn't going to get the education I needed there, so I transferred to Emerson my sophomore year.

I don't regret my decision to attend Emerson, largely because Sallie Mae has yet to develop the technology to repossess the education and experience I got there if I can't make the payments. But if I could have seen the financial landscape that awaited me in my late 20s, I might have chosen the University of Maine or another institution far enough away from home, but with a more affordable program.

So don't worry, young folks. If you've got the talent and the ambition to do something with your life, it doesn't matter if your degree says Harvard College or the University of Massachusetts, especially as you enter college during a recession. Just work your ass off where ever you end up, and it'll be just fine.

Unless, of course, things get worse. In which case, we can burn our degrees for warmth.