Friday, July 20, 2007

Haiku contest!

There's a major prize for the person who turns this Match come-on into the best haiku:

Hello! I am off this week, a long deserved vacation,
but... i will be local up and about. How about coffee in
Newyork city - with you. Take apick, some restaurant you
love, give me the address, date and time this week and
lets meet.

Ambitious? you are too, so lets see what happens, like
they say, its "just coffee"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A stream-of-consciousness remembering of my grandmom

My mom’s mom died last night at 12:01, one minute after my dad's birthday ended.

At 87, she’d had a front-row seat for a staggering amount of the 20th century. She grew up in Milford, Massachusetts and years of living in New York and Florida could not make her put an “r” in the proper place. My brother once asked her what her least favorite food was, and she thought for a moment and said, “Well, I was never paahhtial to paaahhsnips.”

Her parents ran a bar during Prohibition and they’d smuggle alcohol in her and her four brothers’ backpacks. (The statutes of limitations have passed on those charges, right?) They called the bar, The Office, so if you were there you could call and tell your wife you were still at the office.

Even just a few years ago, she’d tell us stories of her childhood in a frightening amount of detail. She’d share a story about a college football game, and tell us what the score was, or when her town had their big anniversary in 1920-something, and she demonstrated the song and flag routine she did.

She almost didn’t go on a second date with my grandfather because they were the same height. They had their wedding announcement in the New York Times, which I always wanted to go back and find.

While my grandfather was at war, she lived in Manhattan, right across the street from Grand Central. Rent: $60 a month. She said she'd run across the street in her robe and slippers for the newspaper. She was so excited when I moved to New York, saying she’d get to live it all again through me.

She and my grandfather raised 10 kids on Long Island after he got home from the war, living out the American dream in a big white house on the water. It's a home for autistic kids now.

We went back to visit it after my grandfather's funeral in 1998, and my uncle, who was one of the younger kids and felt perennially overlooked. He was so excited to be back as an adult to share it with his kids and nieces and nephews. However, the entire trip went thusly:

We go to visit their old neighbors, and the little old lady greets him with a huge smile.
Old lady: Dermot!
Uncle: No, it’s Liam.
Old lady: Oh, I thought you were your brother. Want to come in anyway?

She then proceeded to give all of us teenagers children’s books to read, with the admonishment to wash our hands first.

Here’s the tour we got of the town:

Uncle: I used to buy candy at this gas station up here! (Turn corner, no gas station) What? Oh come on!

Uncle: We’re coming up to this stone wall I used to walk on coming home from school.
(Pause as we turn corner) How can they remove a whole wall?

The trip reached its sad but somewhat inevitable conclusion when we turned the corner to see his old room and discovered that the room literally ceased to exist – the wall had been taken out and the door was plastered over.

When my grandfather retired, they obeyed New York state laws and migrated to Florida, like good grandparents do. She did some sort of Catholic ministry work with single moms in jail, which led to lots of hilarity along the lines of “Grandmom’s in jail again.” Those were happier times.

We played board games with her once, although she never quite embraced the concept of “teams” and would just shout out the answers she knew, so we switched to Scattergories, where you have to write your answers. (There’s an assigned letter and everyone has to write a word starting with that letter in a category.) This lasted only as long as “Four letter word starting with T” when she got distracted, apparently thinking of other four-letter words she knew. And wrote “Fuck.” What more do you want in a grandmother?

Since I was 2, whenever we’d sign off on the phone, she and I would end with “Amen sister.” I don’t know where it came from, but we did it for almost 25 years and it was something just the two of us did.

There are already three girls in our family who have Isabel in their name, and I’m sure there will be many more to come.

She was a good lady.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? I dooooooo…

For me, this summer has been a long slog of movies I don’t care about. (Except “Knocked Up”! Call me Seth Rogan!) I’ve been all “Capt. Jack what? Harry Potter and the Yawns of Yawnington?” Vomity voms.

Ho boy, is that coming to an end on the 27th with the Simpsons movie. Anything could happen! I might camp out, I might dress up. I might skip my cousin’s wedding. (I have a feeling he’ll be ok with it.)

You do not need any examples of how great this movie will be. It will change lives and be required viewing for our children’s children. But just in case you had doubts that these guys were geniuses, listen up. Leading up to this delight, they have turned the 7-11 in Times Square into a Kwik-E-Mart.

I talked friends into going down there with me by singing the Kwik-E-Mart song at dinner. (“Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart. Let’s hurl a brick-e mart. The Kwik-E-Mart is real…d’oh!”) I think they agreed to go just to shut me up. Whatever. I got my way.

Reality and cartoon perfection converged on 42rd between 8th and 9th. They pasted a Kwik-E-Mart sign over the 7-11, had giant Simpsons characters and sold Buzz Cola and Krusty Os (happy birthday, Kevin.)

There was only one small stumbling block/dose of reality/unfortunately quasi-racist moment when the real shopkeeper’s license was posted in the window with his 18-syllable Indian name and someone was like “Oh my God, that must be Apu’s real name!”

Oh, and we also got Squishies. I truly was like when Bart and Milhouse tripped out on them.

The only way to explain my behavior was that I went into a trance. Leaping with a nimbleness I didn’t know I possessed, having my picture taken with Homer and Chief Wiggum.

I also don’t think my friends would have gone if they knew I had a camera with me.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Screw you, J.J. Abrams

Pretend it's like three years ago as I ask you this: Have you seen this show called Lost? Dear God.

I've actually intentionally been avoiding it, because I knew this would happen. I knew I would get way too hooked for my own good, and the good of those around me.

Like my dear friend Taylor—whose wife banned all Halloween candy from their house after he made himself sick—I have what you might call "an addictive personality."

This happened with the legendary Law & Order SVU binge of '04, and some say I've never been the same since. I watched all of Lost season 1 (seven discs!) in about three days. I have binged, my friends, and I regret nothing.

This is the kind of show where it's 3 a.m., you're groggy and about to turn the TV off, but then a polar bear runs out of the tropical jungle. No mere moral could resist watching the next episode. A polar bear! In the jungle! Someone 'splain me that? Between the bear that will haunt my dreams forever, there's also a hatch that likely goes to hell itself. And this guy Ethan who's so creepy that I'll likely punch on sight the next Ethan I meet.

I will also punch the next polar bear I see, so watch your little back, Knut.