Weekly Shocks' Blog

Reason Number 45789 to Love Boston

The Sox just dropped their second straight game to Satan’s League of Mincing Creeps in the Bronx. I think the Sox were momentarily disoriented playing so close to the gaping maw of hell and subsequently forgot a slight detail of baseball: in order to win games, teams need to, you know, score a run or two. Oops.

Anyway. We’ll toss that sadness aside for the moment. The Red Sox are not the reason why I love Boston today, although they usually are about 65% of the time.

I love Boston today because in Union Square, there was a celebration of Fluff.

You may not know what Fluff is because you may not live in or around Boston. How sad for you. Fluff is pure, sweet, gooey, sticky, marshmallow goodness packaged in a friendly white and blue tub large enough to stick your entire head in, if you’re so inclined, and sugary enough to leave you bouncing off the walls, giggling and drooling, for days at a time. I had a friend in college – who may or may not be the author of this particular blog, but don’t tell her I told you this, because she’s kind of unstable and might hit me if she knew I was spilling her dirty secrets online – who once survived a sophomore year finals’ week on nothing but Diet Coke, Milky Way bars, four hours total of sleep, and a tub of Fluff. The stuff is viscous, miraculous crack.

And it was created right here. Well, technically, it was created in nearby Somerville. Somerville is not-for-nothing nicknamed Slummaville. It’s the kind of place where all the girls are named Krystalle and they all smoke by the age of ten and they all go to the packies to buy beer for their dads when it’s their weekends with the kids. Everyone is Catholic, everyone smokes Marlboros, everyone drives a car referred to as “the Shitbox,” and it’s a safe bet that your Shitbox is gonna get stolen someday if it hasn’t been ganked already. In short, it’s exactly the kind of place where you’d expect a product like Fluff to be created.

And I love it. It appeals, deeply and profoundly, to my inner sanctum of white trashiness, a trait that Oxford tried so hard to beat out of me and failed.  Massachusetts – the Great Commonwealth apparently has nothing better to do – is currently debating a bill making the Fluffernutter, a combination of Fluff and peanut butter, its state sandwich. Now, I personally think peanut butter is quite possibly the most disgusting food product on earth besides cilantro, but I’m all for this move. It’s about time Fluff got the respect it deserved, even if it does have to be paired with something so obviously revolting and inferior. But, hey, Massachusetts is brilliantly skilled at condescension already, isn’t it? Did I mention who the Sox had to go visit and play and LOSE TO this afternoon? For the second day in a row? I mean, Christ on a bike. The horrors we suffer.

Fluff as the state treat. Yes. Perfect move: fitting in so many ways, I say. Let’s do it.


Weekly Shocks’ ADD strikes again!

A few shots of liquid rubbish that I simply must share with you fine people when I really should be writing something else:

1) Every time I take a vitamin pill, I vomit. Sometimes, for good measure, I vomit twice. I bet you’re super psyched to find that out, right? Bitchin’! Anyway. Aren’t vitamins supposed to be good for you, though?  Or something? What the hell, body? You suck.

2) This blog has received more than 80,000 hits since I started it back in January. Thank you. Really. Thank you. And I’m so sorry.

3) I got my first American cell phone today. I had a mobile in England. It was blue, shaped like a brick, the texting function didn’t work, I had no calling plan, and I really only turned it on when one of my undergrads got so drunk he was puking up several key organs and needed to be carted off to the hospital for new ones. I loved that phone. I named him Gunter. My new mobile is sleek and stylish and way too hip for me. I’d name him, but I need to figure out how to turn him on first. I’m giving myself three weeks to complete that task before I get so frustrated with the damn thing, I throw it against the wall.

4) You know, I’m only on Point 4 of this blog post, and I’ve already mentioned puking twice. Three times if you include this current bit. Sigh. I need to diversify.

5) The Patriots lost on Sunday. Who cares?

6) True story for you:

Sometime last year-ish, my flatmates and I came across a devastatingly heartbreaking tale in our otherwise laughably terrible university newspaper. It was a story of an undergraduate at our inflated, pompous, but really quite excellent Oxford. The student had developed a nasty addiction to heroin in his second year. His College, like most Oxford colleges, was extremely supportive of him while he sought treatment, but his addiction, like most addictions, pretty much took over his life and kicked his ass. So the kid dropped out and was now homeless in the city, selling the Big Issue to his former academic colleagues on the streets.

Now, not to belittle this poor kid’s miserable fortune, but this is my blog, after all, so the punch line is as follows: I’ve realized that I would be in far less debt right now if I had developed a heroin addiction instead of succumbing to the far more expensive habit of formalized education. The federal government of these glorious United States pretty much owns my soul, my ass, and the souls and asses of any and all future children I might bear. I can’t decide if this fact is ridiculously funny or just ridiculous. Probably both. Hooray!

7) Bill Corbett of MST3K and Rifftrax fame just responded to some goofy comment I made on his Facebook page. He pretty much ordered me never to leave the country ever again. That totally made my year.

8 ) Speaking of, those Rifftrax geniuses are at it again. Encore Presentation of the RiffTrax Live Event of Plan 9 From Outer Space on October 8. I’m seeing it, because God loves me. Does God love you? Then you had better be there.

9 ) I may have sold a story to a legitimate magazine. May have. Oh my.

And on that mysterious note, back to the grindstone. Hoo hah!

Bad Trip

OK, anonymous patrons of the intrawebs, I need your help for just a mo’.

Has anyone seen the Dunkin’ Donuts ad circulating on various web pages in which George Washington reaches out from his dollar bill portrait and snags a Dunkin’ Biscuit With Slab o’ Pig? And has anyone noticed the father of our nation’s buggy eyes, giddy expression, and lolling tongue in this ad, then whimpered softly in terror, distraught at the cultural anomie which allows the presidential image on our most recognizable national currency to animate and pilfer junk food?

It’s kind of a brilliant ad, I have to say. I am keeping all of my dollar bills away from sharp objects, though, in case the good General decides to spring to life again and stage a coup in my house. Which, in Dunkin’ Donuts land (i.e., all of eastern Massachusetts), now seems entirely possible.

Anyway, drop me a line if you’ve seen this ad, because none of my “real life” pals have and they all insist there must have been a nasty batch of LSD in my Apple Jacks  this morning. I don’t want to throw out the rest of the box (I love me some Apple Jacks!) if I don’t have to, but I can’t go through my days tripping on my breakfast cereal.

Throw me a line, people.

The state of my inbox

Number of six-figure salaried job offers this week: 0

Number of prestigious magazine publication acceptances: 0

Number of agents salivating over the possibility of representing me to the dying breed of publishing houses: 0

Number of cut-rate discounted Viagra offers with obscene titles that made me giggle: too many to count.

This week’s overall assessment: amusing. And encouraging. Seriously. Excellent fodder for my writing.

Have a good weekend, folks.

‘Cause living in Manhattan isn’t bizarre enough.

I’m currently working on a story about a guy who gets abducted by aliens while on a fishing trip with his brother. It’s very dramatic and serious. No, really. Stop laughing. It’s totally serious.

OK, I lied: it’s a goofy mess. But I promise: no anal probes. Unless you guys insist. Then anal probes for everyone!

I probably need to be medicated.

Anyway, the story opens up with my adorable protagonist in the Manhattan Hooters with his somewhat less than adorable brother who bullies him into going there. I discovered there was a Hooters in Manhattan a few years ago while on a trip with friends. One member of our ‘we’re-obviously-not-from-’round-these-parts-so-please-don’t-steal-our-shoes’ gang spotted the Hooters as if it were some beacon of light in a swirling darkness of cacophony and confusion. And it sort of was, I guess. I mean, Hooters. In Manhattan. This quintessential, middle America, vaguely offensive yet comforting symbol of bland food, tasteless beer, and stereotypical, giggling gender roles in perhaps the most modern, cynical, hard, and shiny city on earth. It’s so typically not New York and therefore so typically New York. Severe cognitive dissonance. What the hell, man.

Our friend with the Hooters’ radar meekly suggested we have lunch there that afternoon. He was subsequently shouted down and beaten with sticks. I mean, this is New York, and it was summer, so you can see all the jiggly things you like for free on the street. Why pay for it and subject yourself to crappy wings and watery beer in the bargain? Stupid boy. But the incident stuck in my brain like a lot of other inconsequential incidents, and every once in a while, I drain my skull of all this crap and put the incidents in the weirdo junk I write. Again, I probably need to be medicated, but this is cheaper.

There is a point to this whole thing, sort of. I was telling a friend about the story I was writing, because, really, there’s nothing cooler than saying, “Yeah, I’m working on my story,” unless it’s “Yeah, I’m working on my novel.” I’ve received so many grins of slack-jawed wonder from cute guys this way. It’s totally awesome; I ain’t gonna lie. Anyway. I was chatting away in that insufferably nonchalant, self-important manner that I imagine all unpublished humorists have, and then my friend told me something that knocked the breath right out of my unnecessarily inflated lungs:

Me: “Yeah, my story, you know, it’s so trendy, so relevant, so now, you know? It’s wicked. The opening takes place in the NYC Hooters.”

Friend: “I know a guy who used to live in the apartment complex above that place.”

Me: “There’s an apartment complex above Hooters?”

Friend: “Yup.”

Me: “You’re shitting me, right?”

Friend: “Nope.”

Me: “…”

Friend: “I believe the phrase you’re looking for is ‘What the f*ck?!'”

Really. What the f*ck.

Imagine telling people you live above a Hooters. Imagine the variety of responses you’d get. Holy cow. Holy COW.

But, see, this is New York. So, it makes perfect sense. Sort of, not really? Yes? No? What the hell do I know, anyway?

In a callback to a previous post, bugger me sideways.

Well, bugger me sideways.

Here’s your “No shit, Sherlock!” fact o’ the day:

If you live in another country for three years, you’re bound to pick up some of that country’s charming, distinctive speaking patterns.

I didn’t fully realize this until I came back from England for my first long holiday. The British-isms kept popping out of my mouth like teeth from a hockey player. I said vaguely unacceptable things like ‘trousers’ for ‘pants,’ because ‘pants’ on my side of the metaphorical pond meant underoos. I said ‘queue’ for ‘line,’ because, let’s face it, the euphony of ‘queue’ is delicious. I said ‘cheers’ for everything, because, well, cheers. Why the heck not. Worse, my already somewhat pretentious northeastern American accent had warped ever-so-slightly into fake British. My family and friends just loved this. I had become one of THOSE Americans who bugger off to the motherland for a bit, then come home too good for their own accent.

Speaking of bugger, I love that bloody word. I do. If you haven’t poked around the archives here at Weekly Shocks (and if you actually haven’t done so, you’ve broken my heart), get busy and count how many times I use it. Then report back to me, because I’m too lazy to do it myself. But I’ll bet I use bugger, on average, at least once a post. It’s a great word, even if I didn’t know what it actually meant, in all its naughty glory, until long after it started making its sparkly guest appearances in my daily utterances.

(Oh, so you want to know what bugger means, too, do you? I could direct you to UrbanDictionary.com, but if I did, I’m afraid you wouldn’t come back, so I’ll summarize briefly: when a man and another man love each other very much, sometimes they turn the lights down low and engage in an activity Thomas Jefferson once decided was punishable by castration. I betcha UrbanDictionary doesn’t tell you that, now, does it? You’re welcome.)

It’s not just the British-isms that plague my speech, though, bugger it all to hell. I lived in Germany for a year before I ever saw England. Germans have a rather disconcerting-yet-quaint habit of speaking German instead of English (silly, isn’t it?), so I pulled a ‘when-in-Rome’ while I was there and I spoke German, too. For the most part, anyway. When I came back to the States, I discovered, with an appropriate mixture of amusement and terror, that I had forgotten large swaths of my native tongue, the language I had been babbling fairly comprehensively for nearly two decades. Giggle if you like, but just remember: it’s all fun and games until you find yourself tripping over your words like a 4am drunk, struggling to remember the English for ‘Bahnhof’ and ‘Löffel,’ and your parents subsequently suspect you’ve picked up a nasty little drug habit during your peripatetic year in Europe.

Now, this is just excellent fodder to write about in my epic blog of the ages, but the sad fact is that I’m going on professional job interviews and the good, kind, lovely folks who might read this blog so I better say nice things interview me inevitably pick up on my distinctive and uneven speech patterns. Not that I’m bellowing out ‘bugger’ and ‘schnitzel’ during interviews, mind you. But I have had a few folks ask where I grew up, then pause, obviously perplexed when I tell them, quite simply, Boston. People from Boston don’t sound like me. They sure as hell don’t sound like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting or JFK asking not what your country can do for you, etc., etc., either, but that’s not the point. I’m not famous and am therefore not allowed to sound as if I’ve been punched repeatedly in the mouth by a boxing midget on speed. (Now, there’s a fun image to contemplate, isn’t it?)  So sometimes I try and give the whole ‘I’ve-been-in-Europe-a-long-time’ speech, but really, that kind of makes me sound like a pretentious ass. The fact that I sort of am a pretentious ass doesn’t matter. “Pretentious ass” is not exactly high up on a potential employee’s list of desirable qualities, now, is it.

So! I’d really like my old accent back. I asked Oxford to return it months ago, and Oxford being Oxford laughed in my face, then sent a batshit crazy person dressed in a tutu and wielding a bow-saw after me. So we won’t ask Oxford for anything anymore. Safer that way. That leaves you kind folks: if any of you has a spare, normal accent lying around – really, any regional variety is just fine, as long as it’s consistent – please send it my way. We can discuss payment later, or not, because I’m broke, but maybe I’ll write a blog post thanking you. Then you’ll be famous. Sort of. Well, not really. But still. I’d appreciate it. Ask not what Weekly Shocks can do for you, damn it, but what you can do for Weekly Shocks.

A thought: how I can make the Twilight Craze work for ME, damn it.

I’ll be the first to admit that, when it comes to pop culture trends, I don’t know my ass from my elbow. But even a drooling, toothless half-wit like me can see that vampires are hot right now. Like, totally wicked hot, to borrow a popular phrase from my fellow Bostonians. Duh. I don’t really get why they’re hot, but I’m gonna guess it has something to do with the whole sucking the blood of the innocent thing. Right? Right. So, let’s milk that trend for all its worth, shall we? Here’s my pitch:

Leech University


Hot young co-ed leeches explore the ins and outs of life and love in their freshman year at a prestigious private college in the sultry swampland of the Deep South. There will be the rich, handsome young leech, trying to escape the vice-like grip of his overbearing parents. The underprivileged, orphaned leech, trying to escape her poverty-stricken life in a trash can. The shy, sweet leech-next-door trying to escape an abusive relationship with her jerk-leech-boyfriend, a sociopath who pours salt on her and steals her money. A tough-yet-supportive leech professor trying to escape his loveless marriage.  (Perhaps with the abused leech student? Too risque?) A comic-relief leech whose charming, goofball ways are nearly destroyed when he tries to escape from his addiction to prescription blood-thinners.

Holy shit. This could sell. It totally could. Right? Hello?

Simpler Times

First, permit me a small rant:

A few months ago, I developed a proverbial (and strictly metaphorical, may I add) set of testicles and subsequently began sending out pieces of my writing to various magazines. Now, most of these bits of drivel were summarily rejected, and quite rightly, too, because they sucked. Not to put too fine a point on it, but they did. Regardless. I’m ok with rejection. Some editors were actually very sweet and offered kind words of encouragement, even some helpful criticism. However, a few were vicious sadists who delivered the sharpest blow of them all: hope. “Rewrite this piece with our intensely limited specifications in mind, and we’d love to see it again,” they’d tell me.  And because I am a whore with apparently no respect for her own creative merit, I’d jumped through their narrow hoops and tortured my work to fit their inane visions. And it hurt a whole lot. And then I’d resend it. And then they’d reject it. Bastards. I could almost hear the malicious giggle in the tersely-worded emails I’d get. “Haha! Like you ever had a chance here! Looooooser!”

Oh, the things a writer will do for publication. Still, we must persevere.

Moving on. Who here has read Bill Bryson? If you haven’t, spank yourself a few times for your gross neglect, then get hoppin’. I’m currently working my way through his witty and engaging autobiography The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid for the second time. Each of his chapters opens with a wry newsy bit from the 1950s. Dumb News and a slice of simpler times? Perfection. This one is my favorite:

EAST HAMPTON, CONN. (AP) – A search of Lake Pocotopaug for a reported drowning victim was called off here Tuesday when it was realized that one of the volunteers helping the search, Robert Hausman, 23, of East Hampton, was the person being sought.

– Des Moines Register, 20 September 1957

There’s a brilliantly witty story to be written here. Let’s see what I can do with it before some mindless editor tempts me to hack it to pieces.