Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm not dead yet ...


Two months. Two months have passed since I "pulled the plug" here at OOTTS. Yet here I am, writing a new post.

Let's see, quite a bit has happened since we last spoke. Two things I've poked fun at in the past are no more: the Front Street Bistro (closed - soon to be a deli that I'm looking forward to trying) and poor Joe Visconti's town council career. I plan on taking no responsibility for either of these incidents ...

We've made it through the first fall without leaf vacuuming services. As far as I can tell, nobody died from bagging leaves. This, of course, goes to show that people in West Hartford can handle a little bit of change, even if it means facing it begrudgingly ...

I haven't been out searching for new cheeseburger places lately ... I need to get back on that train ...

The movie project that I spoke about a few times here has finally begun screening at film festivals. It even won Best Picture at one!

Oh, and I kind of got hit by a car while running ... I'm fine, and it was far scarier than being bit by a dog, though with less injury (I still have a scar from that stupid dog). I don't know what contortions I used to avoid a total, bone-crushing impact, but I walked away relatively fine, with only my foot getting struck by a bumper. I can't say I was 100% without fault, but I still wonder why I didn't hear the sound of screeching brakes as that sedan came toward me. I'm half-thinking the driver wasn't looking at the road, half-thinking he was an assassin sent to snub me out - only he confused me with a secret government agent who happens to share the same name!

And that's about all. Just wanted you all to know I'm still breathing.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The (semi)retirement of the trailing spouse

I suppose an explanation is in order.

When I started writing this blog (361 posts ago!), I had one goal: To provide a look at the life of a trailing spouse, from the struggles with ego to the major life changes that such a moniker entails, from work to environment and memory. I think I accomplished this. In fact, I think I may have accomplished this a while ago. Sure, things have come up here and there, but my overall arc has completed itself. And without a goal, a purpose, a blog like this becomes a haven for "gee, isn't this video funny" posts, and though those moments were essential months ago, when my life consisted of sporadic work and hours online, they now feel like nothing but filler. And that's not a road I want to travel. There are plenty of places one can go to see goofy stuff.

Of course, there are other contributing factors to my decision. I'm in the middle of applying to grad school right now and work two jobs, so my free time has shrunk considerably (which I'm sure some of you have noticed, with the daily posts becoming twice a week, then once every week and a half). Also, one of my jobs puts me smack in the middle of the town's general public (no, I'm not working at McDonald's or dressing as Noah Webster and patrolling Blue Back Square), and there's something in me that keeps saying, "one of these days, someone is going to smack you because you made fun of them or their restaurant or their poor use of grammar." Certainly, this concern weighs somewhat in my decision.

But this is not to say I'm gone completely. There may be posts to write, strange occurrences to share. There may be completely new ventures, new blogs with different purposes. However, from where I currently stand, I just can't think of a reason to post funny videos of cats when there are a million other places already doing the same thing.

I want to thank everyone that has visited me here over the past 13 months. Tens of thousands of visitors. It really amazes me. And I'll still be checking my email address, so feel free to drop me a line.

Until next time, keep looking out for the vanishing sidewalks ... they're everywhere.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy National Cheeseburger Day!

Thanks to Facebook, I have learned that today is none other than National Cheeseburger Day. Oh joy! Of course, I don't know who officially sanctioned the holiday, and I still had to go into work, but, nevertheless, any excuse to eat a cheeseburger is a good excuse.

Not into cheeseburgers? First, shame on you. Second, there's apparently a "National (insert food here) Day" just about every day of the year, according to this website. Here's their lineup for the rest of the month:

National Butterscotch Pudding Day September 19

National Rum Punch Day September 20

International Banana Festival September 21
International, people! What's a better way to unite the world than with bananas! Here are some great pictures from the 1981 festival in Fulton, Kentucky.

National Pecan Cookie Day September 21

National Ice Cream Cone Day September 22

National White Chocolate Day September 23

National Cherries Jubilee Day September 24

Crab Meat Newburg Day September 25

National Food Service Employees Day September 25
Okay, so this isn't an actual food day, though I suppose if you were in a crashed airplane somewhere in the mountains with a Food Service Employee, you may consider eating them.

National Pancake Day September 26

National Chocolate Milk Day September 27

National Corned Beef Hash Day September 27

Strawberry Cream Pie Day September 28

Drink Beer Day September 28
I like this one, but I think it should be modified to "Drink Some Beer Day." We don't need to be giving excuses to people.

National Coffee Day September 29
Convenient that this come directly after Drink Beer Day.

National Hot Mulled Cider Day September 30

There you have it. Pick your poison, people!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The mystery of Karl's voice

So there's this new commercial for Febreze that has been on TV lately. As one would expect, it's pretty bad: Mom comes into son's room, tells him it stinks, then "cleans" everything by spraying it with Febreze. Anyway, there's a lot to make fun of in this ad (for example, the fact that Karl, the son, is reallllllly into soccer balls), but the one thing that gets me it is that Karl apparently has been completely overdubbed.

Here's the ad:

Now, tell me if I'm wrong on this, but Karl is the only one overdubbed, right? It isn't like that super cheapo Cheerios commercial that was obviously originally from the UK that was dubbed and shoved on US television a year or so ago, is it?

(For those who have a life and don't know what I'm referring to, here's the Cheerios ad:)

This just makes me wonder about our smelly teenager. What happened to his voice? Did he have some horrible accent? Did puberty hit? Was the director pinned down to the edit booth by a crazed male who insisted on having his voice say such clever lines as "Are you kidding?" and "Woah!"

Or maybe our friend Karl lost his voice from all the screams of joy that surged through his body when he found out that he, not the other stoner-looking teenaged actors, was going to have to opportunity to use his talents to sell an odor masking agent to the masses.

Yeah, that's probably it. I know I'd be like that.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Long live Mr. Jim Carroll

Jim Carroll - poet, author, musician - passed away on Friday from a heart attack. He was 60.

I saw Mr. Carroll perform once, back when I was in college. His set included a wonderful set of poems and even a few spoken word performances of his songs. He was a warm presence and seemed to genuinely enjoy talking to the auditorium.

Sad to hear he's no longer with us.

The New York Times has a nice obituary here.

I remember hunting high and low to find a copy of Carroll's 1991 release, Praying Mantis. It became one of the main missions of my freshman year of college in Boston. Every used record store in the city knew me as the kid looking for Praying Mantis. I finally found it, worn and beaten, months after my search began, and treasure it to this day. Here's one of my favorite pieces from the album, titled Fragment: Little N.Y. Ode:

I sleep on a tar roof
scream my songs
into lazy floods of stars. . .
and the sounds return
pure and easy. . .
This city is on my side.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The running encyclopedia ...

On Saturday, while out for a long walk, a car pulled up to the Professor while she was on Mountain Road. The person in the passenger's seat asked if she could help with directions. The Professor said, "Sure, where are you trying to go?"

"Six Flags," the passenger replied, straight-faced. "Can you tell me how to get to Six Flags?"

Bewildered by the query (since Six Flags is: 1. not in Connecticut and 2. Absolutely nowhere near Mountain Road in West Hartford - 30 miles and a 45 minute drive at the minimum), the Professor immediately grew suspicious, as if these people were trying to catch her off-guard before they tossed a pillowcase over her head and crunched her into the trunk. She gave them an "are you serious?" look, then said they should begin by finding Massachusetts via 91 north.

When she got home and told me the story, it reminded me of a similar situation that I was in a few years back, when we were still living in Boston. It was the morning of the Boston Marathon. I was out for a run before heading into work, when a car pulled up next to me and a woman in her mid-thirties and her husband asked: "How do I get to the staring line of the marathon?" This was asked in a nonchalant way, like they were driving along and thought, "Look, there's a runner, we must be close!" Perhaps they thought I must have been heading there myself. Never in their minds, I'm sure, did it occur to them that, since a marathon is 26.2 miles long, the starting line wasn't going to be anywhere near the corner of the city we were occupying. Yet, I tried to help them. I gave them my best description of the marathon route (at least, the best I could remember) and told them to head toward Hopkinton. I even warned them that by the time they got there, the marathon would be fully underway, that their best bet was to drive up to Boston College and camp out on Heartbreak Hill.

It's funny to hear the things people say to you while you're running. More often than not, you're either a human GPS or a target for insults. I don't mind the GPS questions, as long as it doesn't slow me down all that much. I do mind the insults, though even those can be so odd that they're memorable. An example: Right after I moved here, I, along with a few other runners that were on the same road, were barraged by the drunken rants of a teenager in a passing car (the fact that it was around ten o'clock in the morning is an entirely other issue). I wasn't able to hear what was said to the other runners, but to me he said, "I'd teabag that." Huh? I didn't know whether to laugh or lunge at him. It confused me and made me wonder why people bothered? What pleasure comes from shouting out a window? At a runner, of all people!

But every once in a while there's the person who counters the 17-year-old boys. They're the positive reinforcement, the stranger that, for whatever reason, wants to keep you going when you're pounding the pavement. Those are the people you want to run past every day. The ones that say, "good job" or "keep it up." The ones who say these things because they're nice, because they want to say them. They're a rare breed. Sadly, for every shout of encouragement, there's at least a few invitations to lewd sexual acts involving testicles.

So, runners (and walkers) out there, do you have any funny or odd encounters with strangers that you'd like to share? If so, leave a message in the comments below.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Awesome local commercial makes no sense!

I love their ads, and they usually make me laugh (though possibly not in the way they're intended), but sometimes the spots for Dressler and Strickland seem as if they were conceived by someone on crack (or a twelve-year-old). I really wanted to share with you their ad which shows a bunch of cartoon animals driving around in order to offer up the line, "It's a jungle out there," but I couldn't seem to track it down. Nevertheless, for your viewing pleasure, I did find the fine example above.

There are lots of questions I'm left asking after watching this ad. First, why is the woman who has just broken her arm smiling and waving at the driver in the smashed vehicle? Why isn't she and her attorney trying to help him out of the twisted wreckage? And where did "cartoon lawyer" get his suit? That jacket he has buttons all the way up to his neck? That must be very uncomfortable. Then later, why is the jury throwing their own money at Dressler? Is he a hypnotist in addition to a lawyer, or did he just give such a moving closing argument that the pool felt the need to compensate him? And why does the non-cartoon version of Dressler (aka, the actual human being) have such a small gavel? You'd think, for show even, he'd have one of those big, monster sledgehammer deals.

CNN: Asking the tough questions

This is today's CNN "Quick Vote." You know, that little sidebar poll that everyone seems to be doing nowadays on their websites (Heck, I did it once to determine which local restaurant I should eat at - in case you're wondering, the Corner Pug won). Apparently we're concerned enough about tainted food that it has become a poll question, as 45% of those responding (meaning, computer users who frequent CNN and who also have a "click" fetish and who also eat at questionable restaurants and/or get their food from dumpsters) are afraid of their food being, well, not quite food.

On the other hand, perhaps CNN is just pushing buttons here, fishing for what could become the "big fall scary news." They need to find the next Swine Flu before Fox News beats them to the punch. Of course, if you ask me, the major story of Autumn is certainly going to be "watching out for that creepy house on Halloween, you know, the one that Jimmy swears is haunted and that he bets you can't stand to go up and ring the doorbell because, you know, there's a witch that lives in there and she's hungry and the only thing she eats, besides pets, is HUMAN FLESH!!!!!"

Yeah, that's going to be a big story. Maybe I should start a poll ...