Weekly Shocks' Blog


Fore (play?)!

I’ve spent most of the last hour watching golf on TV. It’s been that kind of day.

I’m not really a golf person. I regularly confuse Jack Nicholson with Jack Nicklaus – truth be told, I’m still not a hundred percent sure which one is the golfer and which one likes to smash through bathroom doors with a pickax. Beautifully manicured lawns give me the chills – I always imagine pitching forward onto one of them, scuffing up the grass, and being summarily shot. I’ve had exactly one golf lesson in my life and it ended with my instructor in the hospital with a concussion. She was clobbered by an eight-year old’s rogue, hyperactive golf swing. Or, more accurately, she was clobbered by my rogue, hyperactive golf swing. She was nice, though, and didn’t press charges. Still. Golf suggests violent, terrible things, and really goofy-looking shoes as well. So it’s best that I avoid it.

Every once in a while, though, I need a reminder of why golf and I should stay far, far away from each other, and this morning’s festivities were quite helpful, thank you very much. The first young man who teed off saw his opening shot end up in the sand. His second shot ended up in the sand, too. His third shot ricocheted off the sand and landed somewhere in the woods. I have a feeling he snapped his club over his kneecap after that third shot and punched his caddie in the face with the business end of his golf shoe, but I could be making that up. I was too busy giggling over this poor sap’s miserable plays to notice much of anything by that point.

I’ve heard people say that they play golf because it relaxes them, which generally makes me wonder what kind of lives these folks are leading that make hacking away at a tiny ball with a skinny club and ultimately guiding the damn thing into an even tinier hole relaxing. Then the dirty part of my Freudian-soaked brain whispers all kinds of naughty things about sexual frustration and masculine inadequacy and I get the giggles again. But, really, people: I am a grown up and am quite mature and dignified. Seriously. I swear. Stop looking at me.

Speaking of frustration, I admit that the only reason I’m watching golf at the moment is because the Sox are down to their last playoff hope this season at dear old Fenway, and watching them play through the last six weeks is enough to make any lifelong fan reach for her blood pressure medication. In the not-too-distant past, I was pleasantly hopeful about the Sox and their strong opening half of the baseball season, but really, it’s been a limping, downhill mess since the All Star Break. I’m almost kind of hoping that they get slaughtered today so we can finally put this season out of its premature, peaked-too-soon misery. It’s ok, honey, we can just cuddle. No need to be embarrassed; it happens to everyone.

I bet all of the Red Sox will be spending a lot of time on a golf course real soon.

And I am a dirty, dirty girl.

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Wanna see what made me bellow “Holy cow!” today?

Sure you do. It’s this photo:

Big Dog

His name is Boomer. He weighs 180lbs and is seven feet tall, nose to tail. He may very well be the tallest living canine in the world. I’m still pretty sure my 8lb Pomeranian rat dog could kick his ass, but he’s a super cutie. I bet he fetches entire trees instead of wimpy, pointless sticks. Good boy!

As a “Holy cow!” side note: I’m still averaging about 20-30 puggle-search related hits per day. Almost none of these people comment on my blog. I imagine they’re just as confused by Weekly Shocks as I am. We should form a support group.


Please explain the following bit of societal nonsense:

Why is it entirely acceptable (albeit ill-advised) to eat a chocolate doughnut at 7am, yet scarfing down a chocolate Klondike bar at the same time is considered puerile and sickening?

First person to explain this to me in small, easily understood words gets a cookie. The cookie will be freshly baked, filled with gooey chocolate, and served at 7am with a side of ice cold soda.

On a completely unrelated note, guess what I had for breakfast this morning? It was good, too.


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

Leech

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.


Ganked from Amazon.com:

This is my current Facebook status. So far, only one of my friends “likes” it, which I find sad, because it is one of the most brilliantly hysterical Amazon.com product descriptions I have ever read. The item is a 8GB Ipod Nano, used, selling for $60:

“The actual iPod is in great condition, but it fell in a pool and doesn’t work.”

In other news, I have a couple of interviews lined up for real-world, adult jobs. “Adult” as in bill-paying, slipper-wearing, crossword-completing employment, not filthy pornographic naughtiness. You people. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

Then again, both jobs are in New York City, so who knows?

I love Boston. I will miss this beautiful, messy city if I move south.


Mine too.

Haha! Am I the only one left who finds Garfield funny? Yes? Oh well.

largeimagega090824

Back to America Land tomorrow. YEE HAH.


How can I contact this sexy beast of a man?

I’ve decided that I’ve been single too long. This decision comes quickly on the heels of hearing this charming specimen of manhood.

Dimitri, baby, call me. I’m not on any psychological medication. I’m completely normal and very elegant. I’ve played your message for all my girlfriends who are currently wrestling with me in an attempt to lay their greasy paws on you first. Of course, they’re just jealous. I’m very forceful and independent and will chain you to my radiator after our first date and beat you repeatedly with a lead pipe. But I suspect you may be the type who just loves that sort of aggressive affection. At least I’m hoping you are. You better be, or I won’t be interested.

Rrrrrowwwwwwr.

This could be the start of something very, very special.


The Answer To Your Burning Question

Some poor, frustrated soul is currently trawling the Internet looking for an answer to the following question:

“Can a dissertation be done in two weeks?”

I know this because, not surprisingly, in his search engine journey, he landed right here in Weekly Shocks World where dissertations go to die slow, painful deaths. And then they get resurrected and kill their creators with machetes. It’s all very Frankenstein-esque. Someone should make a movie about it. I’ll get going on the screenplay.

Anyway, poor, sad, reader, if you’re still out there and not dead yet, I can happily assure you that, yes, you can write a dissertation in less than two weeks, although it will hurt a whole lot and you better not have anything else going on in your life while you slop through it. Also, an intravenous caffeine drip will help matters. And, if you can find one, get a willing friend, family member, or hired goon to smack you in the head whenever you start drifting into the slurry land of unconsciousness. This person can also remind you with his cheerful slaps that leaving a dissertation until the last minute is really not the brightest thing you’ve ever done, so try not to do it again, ‘k? You poor, sad fool. You remind me of myself when I was your age. (One month ago.)

Anyway, go kick some ass. I wish you luck. Please report back when you’re finished. And you will finish. I believe in you! You read my blog which proves you’re a smart lad (or lass) with excellent taste and just a hint of a commitment problem. Nothing to be ashamed of, my dear. Wave your lazy bum flag high.


The Californian Moon. Multiplied by 400.

Have I mentioned I’m a little homesick?

God bless the broke, broken, and bumming state of California.

In other, not-America-or-bum-related news, I’m planning a trip to Germany at the end of this month. Once upon a much more bright, innocent, and schnitzel-filled time, I used to live in Germany and spoke the language pretty fluently. But that was a long-ass time ago (I have bums on the mind, it seems), and I have long since forgotten most of my glorious, crabby Deutsch. Therefore, I expect that my shiny and sparkly return to my erstwhile home should be interesting. I also plan on getting there via train, because every plane that leaves the ground these days seems to end up crashing in a fiery blaze into an ocean or a farmer’s house or a napping cow, and, well, I’m just not up for that. So, my peripatetic journey will be England to Deutschland via train. Hot dog. I am crazy like a fox.


Ahem. I’ll take credit for this, thank you.

From The Boston Globe, today (July 5th, 2009):

“Six Red Sox made the All-Star team, including 17-year veteran Tim Wakefield for the first time.”

Did I call this? Yer darn tootin’, I did.

Congratulations, Mr Wakefield, sir. Very well deserved, and I hope you have a kick-ass time in Beer Stadium.


Oh, America.

Well, slap me on the bum and call me Fanny. What’s going on, my good people? How’ve you been? Hope you had a boozy and goofy but not too crazy 4th. Though if it was crazy, send me the pictures. After you get released from prison, of course.

Wow, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Yeah, I know, this blog is filled with far too many shameful instances of me disappearing for days, even weeks at a time without so much as a hint of explanation, then returning, all grovelling and stinky,  begging forgiveness, and offering up more pathetic attempts at wittiness. That’s how I roll. But I’m back now, so you may all rejoice, sigh, grimace, sob, vomit, or whatever it is you do in the comforts of your own home when you read my blog. I’m not one to judge.

Speaking of judging, it’s a good thing I’ve finished with my degree (exam went well, thank you) and will be heading back to Yank Land in a couple of months, because based on what I’ve been reading on the glorious intrawebs, the country is all kinds of screwed up. You people obviously need me. Beyond the recent spate of celebrity deaths that have plagued the land of my birth, seriously, folks: what the hell is up with your state governments? Let’s look at a brief rundown of all the absurdity that has occurred in the past few weeks, yes?

The Democrats in New York locked the Republicans out of the State Senate, after the Republicans apparently tried to ‘seize control’ of the place as if it were Alcatraz. Neat-o.

The “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” is trying to change its name, and not because it’s stupidly long and no one even knew the ‘Providence Plantations’ bit even existed, but because that bit is apparently too reminiscent of slavery. Exquisite.

We all know about Mark Sanford’s little disappearing act into the arms of a certain Maria in South America and how he put his saucy little jaunt on the tabs of the South Carolina tax payer. I had a fun few days before the news of his rather predictable affair was discovered wondering where exactly he was and what he was up to. Holed up in a mental institution was my first (and way more interesting) guess. Either that or he skipped off to join a circus. Given how things are going for him at the moment, either of those two options seems to be a good next move for the man.

Good old Sarah has dropped the reigns of power up in Alaska, though I can’t quite figure out why (her unscripted remarks have led me to believe that she’s going to try out for the WNBA, though).

California is so broke I suspect Arnold is gonna hafta raise funds by taking that role in Kindergarten Cop II: Slaughter in the First Grade after all.

Minnesota finally settled the months-long legal battle over its Senate seat and gave the thing to a comedian, because, clearly, the whole issue was nothing but a joke anyway.

Really, guys, I know it’s been a while since I’ve been home, but I expect that you can hold the fort down a bit better than this. It’s fun reading about it and all, but it’s getting a little embarrassing, too. Get it together, people. I’ll be back soon, but first I have to take care of that Harry Potter actor who contracted the dreaded swine flu, and then there are those Facebook photos of the new M16 boss in a Speedo that need to be destroyed, so I’ve got my hands full at the moment. Carry on as best you can without me, ok? Be strong. Also, go figure out which team Ms Palin is trying out for. I have a bet with a friend here.


Bits of Fluff in Revision Period: Limbering Up The Old Appendages

Man, where has the time gone? It seems like only hours have passed since I handed in my dissertation, then staggered back to my bedroom to spend some quality time examining the inside of my eyelids. But it’s actually been two weeks and now I have to do the whole ‘maddened-with-primal-terror’ thing again in preparation for my final (yay!) exam on Monday. I’ve actually managed to trick my progressively stupider brain into doing some revision over the past couple of days before he wised up and shut down to go off drinking, so I may actually be in decent shape for this weekend’s last mad dash of cramming. But a big part of exam preparation also includes coaxing my hands back into the nineteenth century in anticipation of three solid hours of hand-writing. I can’t type worth a tin shit, but at least what comes out of my sorry technological efforts is legible, which is a helluva lot more than what I can say about my penmanship, especially after I hit the two hour panic mark in Oxford exams. Give me a laptop, and I can manage. Give me a pen, and I might as well be scrawling Arabic on a scrap of toilet paper using chicken shit as ink.  And furthermore, because I don’t hand-write very often anymore, it really, really hurts when I’m forced to do so in exams. My hands are weak and pathetic atrophied messes and I may as well saw them off and replace them with hooks.

I don’t, of course, because I’m not a caricature pirate or a total freaking lunatic, but also because I like my hands. I like one hand more than the other, sure, but that’s to be expected: it does more of the work and is more likely to sustain injury because I am a complete klutz and incapable of dressing myself in the morning without an ambulance and emergency room on standby should something go horribly wrong. And it often does. I’ve done some serious damage to my hands over the years. Both of my index fingers have either been broken or badly sprained. I honestly can’t tell you which, because I never really figured it out myself. All I know is that at some point I did something unbelievably stupid (don’t know what), and they were very upset with me, and so they have healed themselves into horrific, crooked zigzags and I’m now incapable of laying either of them flat on any surface. ‘Sokay: I deserved it. I broke the middle finger of my right hand (don’t know how) and the tip has an absurdly squashed and lumpy look, as if the bones in it have been replaced with mashed potatoes. The bones in the rest of my fingers have thus far escaped serious calamity (don’t know why). However, because my skin is translucent and pasty, the bizarre number of scars I have collected over the years (don’t know when) are patently visible and I look as if I once had a job serving baby lions finger foods. My circulation is terrible: as a result my hands are always cold and, inexplicably, clammy. I bite my nails. Occasionally one of my sisters will observe that my cuticles are a mess. I’m still not entirely sure what a cuticle is and if I can or should do something about this. So, to sum up: my hands are weak, crooked, pallid, scarred, frigid, sweaty, cracked, and occasionally bleeding.

My hands are heroin addicts.

And I love ’em. I mean, they are mine, after all, not anyone else’s. (I’m coming dangerously close to quoting Jewel here, Lord save me.) And it’s not as if I can pop down to the Hand Store and pick up a new set, although in my more disloyal moments, I sort of wish I could. I definitely wish I could on Monday. I’d pick out a sweet, supersonic pair of steel-gray POWER HANDS that could legibly keep up with the pathetic drivel my brain is trying to vomit out at a million miles a second. But because the scientific community is all obsessed with curing cancer and AIDS and ending world hunger and all that other rot, no one seems to have created POWER HANDS yet. Fools. This is why I’m in the SOCIAL sciences, where all the real work gets done. Real work, like revising for exams. And figuring out how my pathetic, sweaty, wimpy hands are going to last through three hours of pressure-cooker scrawling. Oh boy. This will be fun. Wish me luck.


Bits of Fluff in Revision Period: Tim Wakefield better be on the All-Star Team or I will be very, very grumpy.

We’re approaching the midway point of the 2009 baseball season. I’ve kept my baseball posts fairly limited for a couple of reasons: I’m a fan of the sport, but I’m not a complete diehard and I worry that if I post one incorrect statistic on a player or fact about the game, some crazed lunatic (almost certainly a Yankees fan) will come after me with a wrinkled copy of  the MLB Rule Book, a tub of warm, flat Budweiser, and a swinging baseball bat, and then it’s bye bye writing career and intact skull. I also tend to ramble when talking baseball, because I miss being able to see it everyday and there’s that whole thing about absence making the heart grow into a bleeding, sopping mess of loquacious nonsense and it’s just such a beautiful sport and I adore it ever so much and for the love of GOD, will you just stop it with the baseball talk already. You’re in England, no one cares about that silly game here. OK, message received, point taken. But I do want to ask one minor, rhetorical question:

How freaking awesome has Tim Wakefield been this season?

Yeah, I know, his ERA isn’t top notch. I said rhetorical, damn it. Shut up. Look at the positive. Nine wins on the season: that’s tied for second best in baseball right now. Two complete games already. He’s leading the Sox (who are doing just fine, thank you, two games up in the AL East with a tidy little .609 winning percentage) in wins and just a touch behind their ace Josh Beckett in ERA and innings pitched. He’s getting the job done and well done, too. Oh yeah, and he’s 42 years old. Booyah.

It’s still a long shot, but because of his high win numbers and strong performance, there have been whispers from some and bellowing shouts from others (mostly Sox fan-lunatics, God bless ’em all) about getting Tim on  the All-Star roster this year. I make it no secret that Tim’s my favorite player and in my devoted irrationality, I think he should be on the All-Star roster every year. But this time, it’s different. Tim, is after all, 42. And, sure, he can probably play at his level for another four or five years, assuming the Injury Demons leave him the hell alone. But you know there’s only a limited amount of time left before Wake has to put aside his nasty little knuckleball and ride off into the Florida sunset.  Before he does that, though, doesn’t he deserve a spot in this fun and mostly meaningless midsummer game with the big, disgustingly overpaid superstars? Especially this season when he’s been so solidly, unassumingly good? I say hell yes.

Also –  and I know this counts for squat when deciding All Star Game rosters –  the man is, from everything I’ve heard and seen, one of the nicest guys in baseball. No temper tantrums. No eye rolls. No brooding moodiness, no smashing up locker rooms and hotels after a difficult game. No throwing his teammates under a bus in press conferences. He’s willingly done some time out of the bullpen in the past when his knuckleball has been shaky, and he’s such a team-oriented, easy-going kind of guy, you sometimes get the feeling he cleans up the locker rooms and scrubs the toilets at night when the rest of the team has gone home. He doesn’t beat his wife or go out partying with Madonna. You’re never going to see his mugshot plastered all over the morning papers after a raucous night out during which he wraps a borrowed BMW around a tree and strolls away uninjured before spitting in a cop’s face and getting carted off to the drunk tank. That’s just not who Tim is. He has a family and he golfs in his free time. He donates absurd amounts of both his time and money to charities, mostly involving kids. He’s been nominated about eight hundred times for the Roberto Clemente award, which he has never won, because he’s Tim. He’s your classic nice guy: he does his job, does it well and with little fanfare, but because life is occasionally a bitch, he’s passed over for everything.

Well, damn it, not this year. I want Tim in the All-Star Game. When asked if he was hopeful and excited about the possibility of being on the Team for the first time in his long career,  he gave his signature nonchalant, hardworking, ‘the-team’s-the-most-important-thing,’ nice guy answer: “Yeah, that would be pretty cool…Hopefully I’m at least considered for a spot, and if I make it, great. If not, I’ll finish up the second half.” No biggie, right? Bullshit. Heck, Timmy, if you’re not gonna lobby for own your well-deserved inclusion on the All-Star Team, I’ll do it for you. I’m drawing up the bumper stickers and the campaign buttons now. I’m organizing the parades. I’m bitch-slapping all the killjoy know-nothings who inquire, with baffled stupidity, ‘Who’s Tim Wakefield?’ To hell with ’em.  TIM WAKEFIELD FOR ALL-STAR. Oh yes. It’s the right thing to do.