Saturday, April 18, 2009

Leg Driving

In this day and age of skypes, tweets, twats, and whatever newfangled technology is around the corner for instant communication, I feel compelled to enter an area of virgin territory: blogging EXTREME-style. Let me explain.

You see, I received the most perfectly poured medium hot regular from Dunkies while on Friday morning and became overcome with inspiration. Oftentimes while driving, too many good ideas seem to evaporate from my head before I get the chance to sit down at a computer. Not this time, though. I decided to write a running diary of my stream of consciousness – while driving. Note to the life insurer where my application is pending: I promise this was only a one-time thing. Here we go…

After witnessing an old lady disapprovingly wag her index finger at the car in front of me as it ran a red light, I wondered if AM/FM radio would still be a standard feature in cars by the time my little Gigi is old enough to drive. My job requires a lot of driving so I have very strong opinions on radio surfing. For example, I rarely ever keep a station on during commercials. Television ads are terrible, but radio ads are abysmal. Can’t handle them. Add coffee to the equation and my patience is nonexistent.

On this particular day, I was driving from New Bedford. While merging onto Route 140, I decided to start from the beginning – the 80’s of course. Considering the area, it was unsurprising that most of these stations were in Portugese. Lots of words ending in “oosh” and “gow.” Cool, but I need tunes. SEEK. Let the diary begin.

Pink. The song about her divorce. She irritates me but kinda intrigues me at the same time. I imagine sex with her involves crashing into a lot of things in the room. Not sure why. SEEK.

Ray Lamontagne. Great musician. Depressing, though. He kinda makes you want to drink a bottle of whiskey and cry yourself to sleep. I need something different. SEEK. Commercials. SEEK. More commercials. SEEK.

John Lennon. Imagine. Of course Easy 99.1 nailed it. Their motto: “Yesterday’s easy. Today’s easy. Enough said.” Damn right, enough said. Lennon and Hemingway are always the people I say when focus group screeners ask me if I could have dinner with any 2 people in the world, who would it be? I love The Beatles, but I’m not too fond of McCartney. When is the last time he put out a new song that was relevant? Ebony & Ivory? Say, Say, Say? If Lennon was alive today, are you telling me he wouldn’t be cranking out redonkulous collaborations with Jay-Z, Jack White, or Britney? Ok maybe not Britney.

New song. The Commodores. Night shift. This song always makes me a little sad when I hear that part: “Marvin … you were a friend of mine.” Speaking of collaborations, could you imagine Marvin Gaye with Timbaland or Usher? What a shame.

New song. I think it’s Bob Seger and I think it’s called “We’ve got tonight.” For some reason, this song reminds me of Family Ties. I think Alex Keaton and his girlfriend slow danced to it in a climactic love scene. Man, you gotta love the 80’s – and Easy 99.1, for that matter. I’m singing the back-up melody part (“I know it’s late, I know you’re weary. WEARY.”) when suddenly my tires hit the breakdown lane markers. Whoops! Okay I’m back in my lane.

New song. Michael McDonald. Ahhhhh! IMMEDIATE SEEK.

Eventually we land on another ringer. Magic 106.7. Sir Elton. Tiny Dancer. Jackpot. My favorite part hasn’t happened yet. To be fair, EJ hasn’t put out anything lately that’s relevant either. Does musical creativity die when musicians hit their 40’s? Wait, here it comes. “Softly … Slowly. HOLD ME CLOSER, tiny daaan-cer. Something, something on the highway.” Of course my thoughts drift to Penny Lane in Almost Famous. Kate Hudson is pretty hot. But she doesn’t make my top 5 fave actors. 1. Meryl Streep. (The best.) 2. Gary Oldman. (Human chameleon.) 3. Viggo Mortensen. (I’ve got a man crush on this dude and it has nothing to do with his full frontal scene in Eastern Promises.) 4. Jeffrey Wright. (He will win an Oscar once he gets a proper lead role.) 5. Brendan Fraser. (Joking. I’d rather get punched in the face than see a movie with him in it.) Commercial. SEEK.

Kiss 108. Good song. “Speed of Light” I think by Chris Brown the wife beater. I’m doing my patented shoulder shimmy shake dance move. This song might’ve been on So You Think You Can Dance. Can’t wait for the next season. New song now. “My-my-my-my poker face, my-my poker face.”

Commercial. Now off to the world of AM, which rocks for four reasons. Number one - live sports. Nothing on today, but I love listening to baseball on the radio. It soothes me. No games on at this hour.

Number two - WBZ 1030’s traffic on the 3s. I want to know what it’s like to be paid to ride in a helicopter to broadcast about Boston’s traffic, which is exactly the same every single day. “93 southbound, you’re backed up all the way to the Schraft building. 93 northbound, you’re crawling until the Gas Tank and then speed picks up to 5 miles per hour. Pike eastbound, you’re basically stopped from the Weston tolls onward. This is Joe Morgan in the Commerce Insurance COP-terrrr.”

Number three – sports talk. The wife hates it when we listen to any sports radio so this is primarily a solitary activity. I love Dale & Holley. I also enjoy this random degenerate gambling show where prognosticators predict spreads and best bets. It’s hilarious. I tolerate Mike & Mike (they kiss everyone’s ass) and Colin Cowherd (he knows everything so don’t bother disagreeing). I despise Dennis & Callahan (focus on sports, stay out of politics) and the Whiner Line.

Number four – news. NPR (actually on FM) and WBZ give me most of my news. I love BBC News Hour, especially. Something about listening to speakers with UK accents makes me feel smarter.

I don’t listen to the buzz kill otherwise known as talk radio. Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingram, and Howie Carr are the kids you know from back in grade school who talk over everyone else in the room and raise their voices when someone dares to disagree. They have all the answers because they can speak louder than you. I don’t know why they don’t just run for office and fix all of our problems. Oh yeah, because they’d never get elected or succeed in running our country. It’s easier to just sit back, declare provocative opinions for notoriety, armchair quarterback the elected officials actually doing real work, and never be subject to any standard of performance except ratings.

Anyway, I’m feeling like I need music again. I just passed the Gas Tank (actually going 50 m.p.h.) so I’m nearing the home stretch. Nice! Kelly Clarkson. What is it about her music that makes you want to do aerobics with sweat bands and hand weights? (Pat, you know what I’m talking about!) “My life … would suck … without you.” How romantic.

Okay, the caffeine’s beginning to wane. I’ve completed my EXTREME-blog experience. I hope you made it this far. If not, I understand. Any other road trippers with strong opinions on radio surfing? As one of my sports radio shows say, “And we gone.”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Road Tripping 1985 style

Back in the day, my parents bought a used, dark green Chevy Impala that functioned as the family car for the times that it was operational. (They later upgraded to a brand new Chevy Celebrity station wagon when my dad got tired of tinkering with the Green Machine.) Whether we were rolling in the Holla, Impala or the wagon, Grizz usually equipped the roof with a complicated assortment of bungee cords, tarps, and duct tape in order to maximize the storage space for all of our stuff. You see, Thule racks were either not yet existent or a cost that was never to be considered.

Mom manned the front passenger seat and the navigation system: a road atlas and handwritten notes of directions provided by our intended host over the phone. "After you get off the highway, turn left. You'll go straight through 4 or 5 traffic lights before turning right near the McDonald's. Drive until you see a big red barn and we'll have balloons tied to a mailbox. That's our place." Don't forget, no GPS, OnStar, or mapquest. No fast lane either, for that matter.

If we missed the turn at McD's or drove past the balloons because it was dark (about 95% of the time for my family), then we had to circle back to a place where we could find a pay phone. And to find change because calling cards were a creature of the 90's. While Manhattan stock brokers carried cellular phones the size of a briefcase, that technology had not reached "Main Street USA."

No, I'm not going all Grandpa Simpson on you. "Back in my day, we ate glass for breakfast - and liked it!" It just amazes me how technology completely tweaks the dynamics of a family road trip. For instance, what clan of 5 today rolls together in a sedan with just two rows of seats AND a baby seat to boot? I can't even remember how many times I got my arm stuck behind that baby seat trying to annoy the crap out of my brother.

The lease on our Civic ends this November. While we consider our own family truckster of the future, one important question has arisen. Do we go with or without the in-car TV/DVD player? Truth be told, I flip-flop with this question as much as whether I like or hate Kanye West. (The Billy Ocean/Eddie Murphy "My Girl Wants to Party All the Time" 80s shades are sweet but his live performances kind of freak me out lately.)

The purists say screw the TV/DVD. What ever happened to "Eye Spy with my Little Eye" and the 50 state license plate game? What about "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" and the like? Or even better, what about just talking with your kids?

The realists, I imagine, will invoke Bo Jackson: "Just do it." Who cares if you find yourself humming an Elmo song on your way to work because it played 300 times during a weekend family trip? The kids weren't melting down and you drove the family safely there and back without having to assault any of them. Just kidding - making sure you're still with me.

So, I turn it over to you folks. You don't have to be a parent, or even own a car for that matter, but I am particularly interested in hearing from those with little ones. Also, any fond or not so fond memories of childhood family road trips? If you're weighing in on the TV/DVD debate, please also disclose if your truckster is a wagon, SUV, or God forbid a mini-van.

I'm off to pack for our drive to Cahvah. Hey Clark, can you loan me some bungee cords because the trunk can't hold our pack-in-play with its changing station and bassinette, 2 strollers, diaper bag, breast pump bag, bottle bag, clothes, toys, blankets...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Idears on an Accent

For some to hear the pronunciation of a word like "whatevER" as "whatevAH" simply means you're probably in a familiah bah drinkin' Cawz Lights with wicked cool shits. To othahs, the sound of a place called "Clarke's" pronounced as "Claaahks" may cause confusion or perhaps even cringing as if hearing nails on a chaulkboard. For me, the worse the Mass. accent, the more entahtainin', I mean - entertaining.

While the substitution of "ah" for "er" is well documented and understood in the Massachusetts-version of spoken English, there are other common tendencies in a Masshole's speaking patterns that don't get as much air play but are necessary to complete the full package. For instance, think of the word "bathroom." Clearly, there is no "er" in there to be butchered into an "ah." Howevah, some Massholes (especially old school ones) pronounce this word as if they were a member of the English royalty. Don't believe me? Okay, imagine you're at a cookout (barbecues don't exist in the Bay State) thrown by one of your friend's parents who grew up in the Boston area.

Guest: Excuse me, I need to use the facilities.

Friend's Mom/Dad: Oh, okay. Um, walk down the hall, turn right, and the bahhhthroom is the second door to the left.

"Bahhhthroom? Where the hell did that come from?" you might think. A minute ago, that parent just pronounced "corn on the cob" as a "cawnahcob" yet here they are busting out some kind of cockney accent to describe the lavatory. Trust me, I've heard Massholes pronounce that word this way and I have no idea how or why. They may even shorten it to "the bahhhth." Oh yeah, when you're getting ready to leave the party and discard of your empty Solo cup, that same parent will direct you to the "rubbish bin" instead of a garbage can.

The last observation of Masshole-speak is inspired by my daughter's name. While we know by now that an "er" is replaced by an "ah," what about a word that ends in "a" or "ah"? The answer: just do the opposite and substitute "er." Example - assuming we still live at East 3rd in Southie 15 years from now, Sully from down the block will not call our house looking for Greta. Instead, that little punk ass will ask for "Gretter." If I anwered the phone call, I'd either promptly hang up or tell Sully he "bettah not have any idears about getting frisky with my daughtah."

Why am I going on such a tangent about this? The answer - Hollywood. Next time a movie is set in Massachusetts and the producer or director wants one of its characters to sound like a native, DO NOT take lessons from any of the following:

- Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. Was he going for Australian or Bostonian?
- Kevin Costner in Thirteen Days. I think Mayor Quimby is a better representation of the accent than Costner's Kenny O'Donnell.
- Diane Lane in The Perfect Storm. She gets fewer minus points due to her uber-cougar status, but man her accent sucked in this movie.

(Don't even get me started on the Irish accents of Tommy Lee Jones in Backdraft or Richard Gere in The Jackal - or better yet, the Russian accents of Sean Connery in Hunt for Red October or Harrison Ford in his submarine movie.)

Now prove to me that more than 3 people read this blog. Click on the comment link below and tell me your favorite Masshole words/expressions, or your candidate for the "Bad Actor's Accent Hall of Fame." You don't have to identify yourself - anonymous is just as good. If you don't want to, whatevah...