The Loser finally picks The Winner!

Yippee!

Hi! Remember me? You know, the dude having the midlife crisis and going through Wellbutrin withdrawal and trying to keep a completely unmanageable schedule that, over the past couple weeks, has included working on a freelance web-design project until well past midnight every night, all the while weeping in sorrow over the fact that my blog, my beautiful blog, the most meaningful creative endeavor of my entire life and the thing to which I’ve lashed all of my hopes and dreams, has been dying on the vine? Yeah, me. Hi.

So, eight days later, here’s the winner of the autographed, hardcover copy of the late Robert B. Parker’s “School Days” [cue flourish of trumpets]:

MJ!

Congratulations, MJ (whom the Random Number Generator selected) and thanks to everyone else who entered.

Now, clearly, this doesn’t count as an actual, honest-to-goodness blog entry … but, for whatever it’s worth (damn little, I’m sure), I remain steadfast in my belief that I shall soon publish my 40th-birthday-gala entry, and I’m even foolhardy enough to go on record as saying that the publication of said 40th-birthday-gala entry will take place tomorrow, Saturday, January 30 … just 13 days after my 40th-birthday gala … which I originally convinced myself I’d be writing about on my actual 40th birthday … so you know my word is good.

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Posted in Free stuff | 9 Responses

R.I.P. R.B.P.

parkerIn junior high, my friend Mike turned me on to Boston author Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” detective series. A television series titled “Spenser for Hire,” starring the late Robert Urich as the Boston-based private investigator, had recently begun airing, and I was a fan, but had been unaware of the novels. During the more than 25 years since, I have read almost every book Parker has written (close to 70).

He is, by far, my favorite author. Smart, funny and prolific (he notoriously wrote about five pages per day, never bothered with rewrites, and cranked out a new book every three or four months), he seemed from afar to be a down-to-earth, tough-yet-sensitive, New England-area man’s man, and has always been an inspiration to me as a writer.

Which is why I was terribly saddened to learn that he died Monday at age 77. Fittingly, he was sitting at his desk, writing, when apparently he was struck down by a fatal heart attack.

I am sad that the few remaining books of his I’ve yet to read (to include a couple new ones due out this year) will be the last, and I’m also a bit disappointed to never have met the man; always figured I’d get to a book signing or bump into him in the city. Would have been nice to shake his hand, thank him for all the years of entertainment, and tell him what an influence his writing has had on me.

Robert B. Parker's "School Days"But since I didn’t get to introduce myself to him, I figured I’d introduce him to you — or, in the event that you already know (of) him, reacquaint you with him — by giving away an autographed copy (a little scribble that a family member kindly obtained for me at one of his book signings) of his 2005 Spenser novel “School Days.”

Just leave a comment below in which you name your favorite author and favorite book by that author, as well as any additional related tidbits you care to share about either. I’ll pick a random winner this weekend.

UPDATE, 01.25.10: Comments are now closed. I’ll name the winner today. Thanks for entering!

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Posted in Inspiration, Life | Comments closed

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree … How did you get so smelly?

Stinkmas Tree

I like to put off for as long as possible the throwing away of the Christmas tree — both because I love the way it looks, all colorful and aglow … and because I like putting things off for as long as possible.

Left to my own devices, my lack of Christmas-tree-disposal enthusiasm can sometimes result in the transformation of a Christmas tree into a Cinco de Mayo tree … but my hand was forced this year — which is how the tree came to be planted in a snowbank a week ago yesterday.

“We have to get that tree out of here,” Wonder Woman said to me a couple days prior to the tree’s eventual eviction. “It’s starting to stink.”

I, too, detected a foul odor … but nowhere in my memory bank of 40 or so Christmases could I locate a single instance of a Christmas tree emitting a foul odor, regardless of how bone dry and decrepit it had become.

“That’s not the tree,” I said scornfully. “There’s gotta be a piece of food under the couch … or a body … or something,” I added, without actually looking for whatever was producing the smell … because I’m helpful like that.

A day or two later, however, the smell had become, shall we say, more pronounced, and damned if it wasn’t coming from the Christmas tree. (Quick note to temper the excitement of those among you who may be hoping for a punchline involving a long-dead animal decomposing in the tree: it ain’t that good. Sorry. Also: I can’t be the only person who thought of that, right?)

In addition to procrastinating about things like Christmas-tree removal, I also have a tendency to pick the most inopportune of moments to finally tackle such a task … like, say, late afternoon on a Tuesday when Wonder Woman is at work and my two on-the-verge-of-a-meltdown children are in my sole care.

But, hey, I knew it would only take a moment to lift the tree from the base, place it in the ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bag (thereby eliminating the need for any kind of major pine-needle cleanup) and whisk it oh-so-easily down to the curb.

Of course, I couldn’t find the ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bag, which had been in the basement since last Christmas, and which I’d seen and/or moved on a handful of occasions throughout the year, so I know we had one … and I know it’ll turn up again in, say, June … which is why I won’t buy a new one come next Christmas, because I’ll remember having seen it over the summer … but then the Gremlins will hide it once more, and the cycle will start anew. Which reminds me: my wallet went missing about the same time as the Christmas-tree bag. Fucking Gremlins.

OK, no biggie: I figured I could mitigate the problem by placing the lower portion of the tree in a heavy-duty, contractor-grade Hefty bag.

Note for the Gremlin-plagued masses who can’t find their ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bags, and who are contemplating mitigating the problem by placing the lower portion of their trees in heavy-duty, contractor-grade Hefty bags: there’s a reason Hefty doesn’t advertise the bag in question as being useful for disposing of Christmas trees, and that reason is that it totally isn’t.

At that moment, a calmer, more well-thought-out and level-headed person would have postponed the Christmas-tree removal to the following day, with the intention of first procuring a new, ever-so-helpful-and-convenient Christmas-tree bag. Please keep in mind, however, that I am infinitely capable of being neither calm, nor well-thought-out, nor level-headed. Please also keep in mind that the tree stank like a 10-day-old alpaca carcass in a greenhouse. There would be no waiting.

Had the tree been slightly more dried out, and had there been enough of a static shock produced when I touched it, I’m fairly certain you’d have seen the mushroom cloud from miles away when said tree exploded. Fortunately, no combustion took place … though there was a spectacular and prolonged explosion of pine needles that covered both my town and a couple of adjacent municipalities.

As I was down by the curb stripping the lights (and, indirectly, the few remaining pine needles) off of the very dead, very dry tree (which, on a more positive note, made it incredibly light and easy to carry), I glanced up at the house and noticed Zan gesticulating in the bay window and trying to mouth to me through the glass something of apparently great importance. I motioned for him to go to the front door.

“There’s an ornament in the water that the tree was in!” he hollered after opening the door.

“Alright, that’s no problem, buddy,” I assured him, unclear as to why he seemed so distressed.

When I got back inside, it seemed that removing the tree had not only failed to diminish the vile odor, but had actually amplified it.

“Look, Daddy, look!” said the kids, pointing to the red bowl of the Christmas-tree base, in which floated the decomposing remains of a reindeer ornament, the body of which had been constructed from a dog biscuit.

Now seriously, folks: of all of the places an ornament could fall, it fell through the narrow opening of the round blanket covering the Christmas-tree base and into the water, and of all of the ornaments to accomplish such an unlikely feat, the one that did so just so happened to be a perishable-food substance? You can try to convince me that the universe isn’t intentionally fucking with me, if you like, but I promise that you’d be wasting your time.

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Posted in Life | 23 Responses

I FINALLY got to use my passport!

Passport

In my mind, I am a worldly, tuxedo-wearing, international man of mystery, jetting to and fro, blending seamlessly with my surroundings … by all appearances a high-class, streetwise native of whatever far-flung, exotic locale in which I find myself.

In reality, I rarely leave the house.

But I have a passport. Oh yes, a passport. A passport with which I could gain entry to any country of my choosing. France, for example.

It was in December of 2001 when I secured my first and only passport. Somehow, despite being a bona fide adventurous, carpe diem kinda guy, I had managed to make it through more than three decades on earth without needing one. Embarrassing … but I’m also the guy who grew up 250 miles away from New York City and never got there until I was 25 years old.

Truth is, until I reached my 30s, I had no interest in going anywhere other than Florida, Mexico or the Carribean. (This should offer some insight as to why, when I step outside lately, I say things out loud to myself like, “Oh yeah! Snow and ice, baby! This is great! Let’s live in New England! BRILLIANT IDEA, DUMB ASS!)

But then, in early 2002, I got my big chance to finally experience Europe. France, to be exact. And not just France, but Paris. Gay Paris, as they say. Though I’m not gay. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

My brother was, at the time, living in Paris, and Wonder Woman and I had made plans to experience the city with both him and his Parisian then-girlfriend, and how cool would that have been? Our own native tour guide … whose family also has a home in the beautiful coastal region of Brittany, to which we had planned to travel by train, and can you even imagine the unbridled awesomeness?

And then the sky cracked open and the hand of god reached down and bitch-slapped me with a pink slip two weeks before our departure, and we had to bail. But, hey, no problem, we were still young and childless and renting instead of owning and there would be plenty of time to travel and experience the world before we got bogged down in parenthood and home-“ownership” (Ha! Like we own this place! BWAHAHAHAHA!), right?

And here it is, eight years later, and do you see the passport shown above? Let me share with you how many customs stamps appear on the pages contained therein: ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. NONE.

DADDY07But today, my friends … today, I finally got to use my passport. Yes, that’s right: the very official-looking woman in charge needed to see it … and being the experienced world traveler that I am, well, I suavely and nonchalantly slid it across the desk so that she could peruse it and confirm that the dashing man in front of her — by all appearances, a handsome, 007-like spy — was, in fact, who he said he was.

And then she issued me my replacement library card.

I kept thinking I was going to find my wallet, which has been missing since last weekend. It’s gone missing before … or, rather, I’ve lost it before … because that’s just something I have a tendency to do with great frequency (see previous entry about ADD). But then I got an email from my bank that contained the “site-key unlock code” that I had apparently requested at 11:31 p.m. Wednesday night … except that I wasn’t doing any online banking at 11:31 p.m. on Wednesday night. Fuck.

Fortunately, the bottom-feeding scumbag who found my wallet and tried to do a little online banking in my name was unsuccessful. (Unfortunately, a.) that person now knows where I live, b.) I have to replace all my shit, and c.) I can’t replace the little pink tissue-paper heart that Wonder Woman gave me, like, 11 years ago, on which she wrote “My heart is always with you.” That last one really pisses me off. Die, wallet-stealer. Die.)

But I got to use my passport. Now if only I could get to Europe. *sigh*

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Posted in Life | 26 Responses

Dear 2010: I am going to whup your ass

Oh, the visions I had for this inaugural post of 2010. First, I was going to mention how it was four years ago tonight that I launched an early incarnation of this blog, followed by a bit of reflection on how far this whole experiment has come since then.

Also swirling through my brain were thoughts about banging out some kind of year-in-review piece, perhaps with links to a few of my more memorable posts of 2009, as well as some of my characteristically brilliant, insightful, witty and profound commentary on the first decade of the new millennium.

But here’s what I’ve got for you instead, Internet: I am starting 2010 on the verge of having that mental breakdown I keep threatening you with. I am fucking fried. The holidays, wonderful though they were (and they were) burnt me out, the kids are on my nerves, and Wonder Woman and I are about one breath away from buying a couple of foam baseball bats with which to bludgeon each other.

So, since a spectacular New Year’s Day blog entry isn’t in the cards, I will instead set the tone for 2010 by being brutally honest with you: I am a brooding, moody mess right now, and the reasons for this are not only post-holiday burn-out, sleep deprivation and the ongoing joys of parenthood, but also, I am fairly certain, the fact that I currently am weaning myself off of Wellbutrin, an antidepressant used for treating, among other things, Attention Deficit Disorder, with which I was diagnosed about eight years ago after spending roughly three decades accumulating a personal history that reads like a “You Know You Have Full-Blown Bona Fide Attention Deficit Disorder When…” handbook.

And though the primary purpose of the prescription was to treat my ADD, it certainly hasn’t hurt that the medication in question is an antidepressant, because let’s just say that depression and I have made out with each other on several occasions. With tongue, even. I’m pretty sure she’s feeling me up right now, as a matter of fact.

There’s a reason why I’m weaning myself off the medication at this particular time, however, and it is a reason that involves Zan and I and a holistic treatment we recently underwent that requires a far more in-depth explanation than I’m prepared to give in this particular post, but I promise to give you that explanation in my very next entry. (And all this time, you thought I was just kidding about being a fucking basket case, eh? Well, the joke’s on you! Ha ha!)

In keeping with my pledge to be brutally honest with you in 2010, I also will reveal that compounding my current state of fucked-up-ness is my impending 40th birthday, the imminent arrival of which has initiated the onset of what, by all early indications, promises to be a positively spectacular midlife crisis.

The good news is that I am totally Type A, so instead of curling up on the couch with a bottle of Jack Daniels and a DVR full of bad reality television, my plans for grabbing 2010 by the balls include: finding a new therapist; getting back in the gym; running; resuming my meditation practice; and blogging like my life depended on it.

Alright, so maybe I didn’t give you my originally envisioned feel-good “Happy New Year!” blog entry, but you have to admit that I sure as hell gave you some interesting shit to look forward to.

Happy New Year, my faithful Scratchers. Do stay tuned, won’t you? It’d be a shame to have all this drama go down and no one to share it with.

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Posted in Life | 28 Responses