29 April 2007

Rockin' the South Shore

No truer word has ever been spoken.

In our quest to scour the South Shore for a more convenient home base, we stopped at this unlikely jewel in Hanover for a bite to eat on Saturday afternoon in between house drive by's (not the shooting kind).

Though I am sure some out-of-town motorists driving down Washington Street pull into the parking lot expecting legs and eggs, apparently, The Squires has no connection to the Revere strip club of the same name. I don't know what kind of rep this place has on the South Shore, but don't let the somewhat shady exterior fool you. For $37, we ordered 3 Sam Adams, mozarella sticks, a burger and fries and the best grilled chicken salad I have ever had. At a place with white and red checked vinyl cloths on the tables, I expected iceburg lettuce and a slab of rubbery chicken, but what I got was real Mesclun greens and strips of char-grilled chicken sprinkled with cranberries, walnuts and feta cheese. Rich was equally impressed with his burger.

What the place lacks in atmosphere, (tired knotty pine walls with beer signs hung on much of the available wall space) it makes up for with its food.

"I know this place is so townie, but I like it," Rich said taking a swig of his Sam.

Anyway, it was a good start to our South Shore excursion, which, after four hours of house-gawking, continued with a trek to the City of Champions - Rich's old stomping grounds - to see the Sergi's, then an impromptu party at Stoneforge Grill in South Easton, where Rich was treated to a surprise visit by a couple of long-lost high school pals. His hyena-like laughter could be heard throughout the restaurant as he told stories with Serg and Wayne and sipped his Guinness. After, we were fortunate enough to be invited to crash at the North Warren Inn, especially after my five glasses of pinot noir.

Fun was had by all, and I hope we get to do it again very soon.

26 April 2007

An ode to Mrs. Sweeny

In an attempt to clean the clutter out of my literary closet, I went through a bunch of manuscripts (mostly crap) from high school and college that, for some reason, I had been saving. Because I hope someday to write something of worth, I don't want anyone to find these things when I am dead, so I threw most of them away.

However, I came across this poem that I wrote during one particularly boring English class senior year of high school. I chose to save this one, not for it's literary value as you'll see, but for the memories it brings back. Anyway, here it is. (Please note: I recently got a Mac, and for some reason the spell check on Blogger doesn't work. Since in today's world, we rely on computers for things people used to do themselves, please excuse any errors in spelling. I am only human. I cannot be held accountable.)

I once had a teacher
Who was all the time distressed
Not that she was cruel
Or like the Wicked Witch of the West.

But there is something about her
I find a bit hard to explain.
She just has a way about her
Of which I wish to complain.

Continuously contradicting herself
Morning, noon and night.
Always looking for an argument
Always looking for a fight.

I find her very humorous
For it is very funny to see
My teacher claims she knows
So much more than me.

Not to sound conceited
Or to make you think I'm smart,
But let me tell you just one thing,
She makes ignorance seem an art.

She says one thing, then the opposite
Perhaps she's trying to confuse
But I don't think that's what it is,
It's more like a type of abuse.

I think she is just unaware
Because she just does not know,
And every day I sat in class,
My anger would just grow.

Ask her a question, and she'd tell you no lies
At least that's what she thought,
But after asking the question
You'll see it was all for naught.

Her actions are of a politician,
Circling questions like a hawk,
For upon hearing the answer
You'll realize it's all just talk.

"How many times can I ask you," she once said,
"To be quiet without having to say it?"
I looked around the room and thought,
Doesn't she ever quit?

The whole class was laughing
At this not-so-teeny meany
I just have to say hello,
TO my English teacher, Mrs. Sweeny.

23 April 2007

Audrey's crazy

well, he's done it again. That fun-loving combatant of all things terrorist has bucked the system and decided to risk World War III to save his formerly dead girlfriend.

Jack Bauer has gone "rogue."

Who couldn't see that coming a mile away?

In fact, when Jack received the call that Audrey was still alive, Rich and I both looked at each other and said "Jack's going rogue." And sure enough, only moments later, those were the exact words out of Bill Buchanan's mouth.

It feels like the writers for 24, which has been one of my favorite shows since it began, have run out of ideas. How can you go from having Bauer saving the US from its destruction a la nukes to demanding presidential permission to rescue his former love interest from a Chinese national who is holding her hostage? It's just very anti-climatic.

There are only 4 episodes left, and unless Fayed comes back from the dead and has five more suitcase nukes, I just don't see how this season can keep my interest.

Perhaps Lisa Miller, now-President Daniels' assistant and sometimes lover played by ex-alien Kari Matchett will shake things up. She definitely has something up her sleeve.

22 April 2007

Death of the PC

Our computer has been dying a slow death for the last two years. Blue screens, unexpected shutdowns, sizzling noises coming from inside the guts of the thing. It made every log on experience a virtual nightmare, like waging a war you know you're going to lose.

Yesterday, our Gateway took the final, slow walk down death row. It was three years old.

It was a good computer, for a year. We went through a lot together. Deadlines, late-night fact-checking, the uploading of my first digital photo. I can never replace those memories.

But what I hope to replace is that f'ing awful customer service. When my computer was overheating, one of the "technical support" people told me to stack it on top of some books to give it more air. When I told her that solution wasn't very technical, she responded, miffed, that she was only making a suggestion. What's more is that I had to pay $50 every time I needed to ship the thing out, then wait 5 days for it to come back, only to blue-screen on me again a few weeks later. It made working as a freelance writer the worst job in the world.

So, when it totally bit the dust yesterday (and by the way, even though this computer has given me trouble before, I STILL didn't back everything up) we went out and, after much research, bought a Mac.

So far, so good.

Now if I only knew what a widget was.

18 April 2007

An unfortunate hero

I've been watching in disbelief the coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. I have always been the type of person to take events like these to heart, even though I know no one involved.

No doubt stories of sorrow and heroism will slowly unfold over the coming hours, days and weeks, but one that I heard today was particularly moving.

It is the story of Liviu Librescu, 76, a Romanian-born Israeli engineering professor who worked at the school for 20 years. The man survived the brutality of the Holocaust, but fell victim yesterday to the gun of a young man who I can only assume was very, very lost.

But Librescu's story doesn't stop with his death.

Those students whose lives he saved by barricading the door against the gunman, 23-year-old Cho Seung-hui, while they obediently took refuge by jumping out the classroom's windows, will remember him forever. They will imagine a life, I am sure, in which Librescu wasn't there to risk his to save them. What if? But then, eventually, life will go on. Because it has to.

My hope is that, one day, as their lives begin to move forward, those students will remember why it is so. I hope they land their first jobs and remember him. Take their vows and thank him. Look at their children and honor him.

08 April 2007

Wanted: The Easter Bunny

Let me start off by saying, I'm not religious. At all. For a time, when we were kids, my mother sent my brother and I on Sundays to the area Baptist church on a silver van driven by a very heavyset man who wore a towel over his lap so he could steer, but it never really took. Church, I mean.

So growing up, Easter was mostly about wearing a new outfit, eating ham and of course, hunting for our overflowing Easter baskets. This year Rich and I decided we wouldn't buy our son an Easter present. He's not even 2. He doesn't eat candy. And his birthday is one month away. But sure enough, there I was in Kmart last night, weaving through disgruntled last-minute Easter Bunnies who were all looking for candy, searching for this fire-engine shaped basket I'd had my eye on for weeks that I suddenly decided he needed to have. They sold out, so I settled on reusing the pail my mother had given him his Easter presents in last week.

Two match box cars, a Thomas coloring book and a couple of those plastic Easter eggs filled with Goldfish, and the kid was in heaven this morning. Whew! We headed to our neighbors' house for a terrific Easter brunch, then came home to relax. All in all, it was a pretty good day in its own uneventful way.

But what I really wanted to say about Easter was this. Last night, I saw some ridiculous news story on the Easter Bunny being banned from a RI school , another case of political correctness run amok. Apparently, the Superintendent of Tiverton schools felt the Easter Bunny was too religious an icon for an event at which he was scheduled to appear and might offend those who did not celebrate the holiday. So instead he proposed that event coordinators change the Easter Bunny's name to Peter Rabbit. What's next? Banning the phrase "Good Morning" because it offends night owls who can't possibly tolerate such a comment without first having had their coffee?

In response to this debacle, one local politician decided to take the Bunny's case to the state, and this week proposed the Easter Bunny bill, which would protect his name, along with the names of other traditional holiday symbols. Not that I'd want my tax dollars wasted on such nonsense, but do Tiverton school administrators realize that the Easter Bunny is NOT religious? Jesus rose from the dead, and oh, yeah, a giant, white rabbit brought you Peeps to celebrate.

Tiverton parents: If you don't like or want your kids to believe in the Easter Bunny, don't let them go and sit on his lap.

And by the way, Mr. Superintendent, as the politician aptly points out, Peter Rabbit stole cabbages. Not a great role model. In fact, if I were a Tiverton parent, I'd sue.

04 April 2007

Three strikes you're out

There is a major battle going on right now in our tiny, little household.

My son, who will be two years old next month, has entered a new stage of his young life: the hitting phase. What started out as an occasional flailing of the arms has turned into an all out, one-sided boxing match at times. Give him some gloves, and I bet he could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee too.

And while I am occasionally the recipient of these blows, it's Rich who suffers the brunt. He comes home from work, after about an hour and a half commute, happy to see his family, and when he leans in for a kiss, he gets bopped in the nose by a tiny little fist. I try and tell him that it's not personal, that it's just a two-year-old's way of saying, "Hey Dad, where the hell were you all day? You should have been home rolling trucks with me!"

But that's like telling the 23 DePauw University girls kicked out of the Delta Zeta sorority that it wasn't because they were awkward, slightly overweight and unpopular that they were banished.

It's been going on for days now, and I cringe when Rich walks through the door and requests a hug from our son. I just try and remove all hard, plastic toys from his little hands and hope for the best. To his credit, Rich is taking his pounding like a champ, getting up round after round only to be knocked down again.

My hope is that it doesn't last much longer, 'cause I'm tired of playing referee.

02 April 2007

The kindness of friends

(Nearly 100 people show up at Picasso's Pizza in Warwick, RI to lend support to a friend who was seriously injured in a workplace fire.)

There's so much bad in the world, it's nice to be part of something that's just plain good.

Over the weekend, we packed up the family Camry again for a road trip. This time it was to my hometown in Little Rhody, where my brother and his wife worked hard at organizing a fundraiser for one of his best friends who last month suffered serious injuries in a workplace fire. The road ahead is long for he, his wife and adorable one-year-old son Aidan, as doctors have told him that after numerous surgeries he will be out of work for up to a year.

The term sounds extremely cliche, but it really was heartwarming to see how many people showed up for a $10-dollar-per-ticket all-you-can-eat pizza buffet to help this young family. It must have been nearly a hundred, and they came from all corners of his life - family, friends, high school football and baseball players that he and my brother have coached, even strangers.

My sister-in-law pitched the idea to local businesses and, in the end, nine of them donated items to be raffled off. (Being a coffee addict, I put most of our 60 raffle tickets in for the D&D gift basket, and won!) The event was held at Picasso's Pizza, and the owner donated all food and drinks. And kudos to him because, I have to tell you, it was downright scary to watch those hungry teens circling the buffet table time after time like vultures, knocking down old ladies and waiting with plates in hand for the pizzas to be brought out.

(My brother and his wife with Aidan at the fundraiser.)

When all was said and done, my brother and his wife raised over $1,500 for his friend's family. They didn't want thanks or fanfare, and so they will surprise him with the check when he returns home from the hospital this week.

But what's more is that they restored my hope that when people are in trouble, others will help answer the call.