Leap Days and Letters

Chicken salad hibernates with the beach mimes. And only those who cradle the gasoline can dedicate their lives to remote controls and crayons.

Oh, sorry! Leap Day has me all screwed up.

To those of you who subscribed to The Letter, it’s coming! I hoped to have the first one out already but I’m fine-tuning it. I want this to work and look the way I want it to look without being lame, so I’m taking time to really get it right. You’ll have the first one in your mailbox in March, and I thank you for your patience (and if you haven’t signed up yet, what the heck are you waiting for?)

In other news, we’re supposed to have an actual storm here today and tomorrow. Snow and everything! Just like winter! I’ll believe it when I see it. This has been a rather odd, unsettling season, with more days in the 50s than in the 20s. No snow for the plows or the shovelers. Maybe we can make it up with a massive snowstorm on the Fourth of July. Fireworks would look so nice mixed with the falling white.

What Happened? (Part 2)

Two weeks and only two posts?

I did think about writing a hell of a lot these past two weeks, if that means anything. (Note: it doesn’t.)

The first letter is coming in the next couple of weeks though! I’m hard at work on that. If you’d like to subscribe and actually get something in your snail mailbox every month in addition to the content here, click the donate button the right and follow the instructions. And thanks!

Have a great weekend.

What Happened?

Where did this week go? I don’t mean to say that I accidentally misplaced it or that it fell between the cushions of my couch, I just mean that the entire week flew by, and every day seemed to zoom zoom zoom like a bullet train. Every day this week I would turn on my computer, really excited about getting things done, and then I’d look up and see that somehow 9AM had turned into 5:30PM. How does that happen without you realizing it?

The Internet is a great yet terrible thing for writers.


The coverage is insane. This is was happens when you have a player come out of nowhere in the age of Twitter and Facebook and a 24 hour news cycle. I feel sorry for the guy. There’s no way he can live up to the quick hype (nor should he have to). I love sports, but it’s stories like this where I realize that the people who don’t like sports might have a point (and the same can be said of the whole celebrity culture in general – as I type this Whitney Houston’s funeral is in progress. It’s “a private service, for family and friends only.” Plus the millions of people watching on NBC, E! and CNN).

That headline from ESPN was truly horrifying and hopefully people were fired over it. It’s bizarre how quick things happen now. In the space of a week, thanks to the web, we have the explosion of his popularity, the tweets and the Facebook posts about his popularity, the laughable attempts to explain his popularity, the backlash about his popularity, the game where he comes down to Earth (gee, you mean he’s human after all and sports can change game to game?!?), and the ugly headlines and jokes. Being famous is so quick and efficient now, isn’t it?

It’s Lin-sanity alright, if you’re talking about the media coverage.

I’m working on the first issue of The Letter, which includes trying to figure out whether I should even call each letter an “issue.”

Have a great weekend! I wish it would snow.

Big Valley, Small World

Peter Breck died.

This name may not mean anything to anyone below the age of 40, unless you’re a person under the age of 40 who is addicted to ME TV or TV Land. He played Nick Barkley on the western The Big Valley and he passed away the other day at the age of 82.

I don’t usually go in-depth about the passing of celebrities on this site (though maybe I will more now that PBJ is kaput), but I bring it up for an interesting reason : his stepmom was the secretary in my high school’s guidance office.

Now, you may think this isn’t very interesting or surprising. After all, everyone has to live somewhere. But when you live in a city in the farthest corner of Massachusetts and the secretary in your high school’s guidance office is the stepmom of one of the stars of a rather well-known TV show, it’s interesting.

I’m not even sure if I knew who she was at the time. That memory has been lost in the three decades since I last saw her. If I were to bet I would bet that I either didn’t know it at the time or someone told me at the time and it just didn’t register. Even the other day when I found out that Peter Breck had died and I was reminded that she worked at my school it was one of those “Oh yeah, I forgot about that!” things.

For some reason I do have a vivid memory of the name plate she kept on her desk: MARY BRECK.

It’s not like she lived here for a summer or just passed through that one time – oh, did you hear that the mother of that guy from the TV show ate at Destino’s?! – she actually lived and worked here for most of her life. Before working at the high school for 20 years she worked at Sterling Drug downtown for 35.

She’s buried here. She passed away at the age of 95 in 2008.

The point? Well, there is none, I guess. Just that the death of someone from a 1960s TV show can get you thinking about people you haven’t thought about since your high school days in the early 80s.


Whitney Houston. In all of the obits and remembrances of her, no one has mentioned this song, but it remains my favorite of hers. The vocals are incredible and the song is not only funky and soulful, it swings.

On Not Winning $250,000

I didn’t win a quarter of a million dollars over the weekend. Maybe you didn’t either, but did you even try?

I’m playing the board game my local supermarket (no, not this one) has been running for the past few months. You buy groceries and they give you a ticket. You open it up and there are four game pieces inside. You place the pieces on a game board and if you collect the right combo, you get a prize: $250,000, cars, trips, electronic goodies, shopping sprees, that sort of thing. You even get a coupon on every ticket, so by just playing the game you’re getting something.* From all of the shopping I did the past few months, I had accumulated around 250 tickets.

That’s 1000 game pieces (yeah, I should have checked them all immediately instead of having to go through a pile of them all in one night, but I didn’t really think about it) . The first half dozen that I placed on the board put me in a position to actually win something: $50,000, a digital camera package, and a new iPad! I thought to myself, hey, if I’m this close to winning and I still have 994 game pieces to go, I’m bound to win something, right?

Apparently that’s not how it works. 994 game pieces later and I still hadn’t won anything. I went through all the game pieces and all I had to show for it was a sad pile of ripped paper on my coffee table and on the floor. So I just sat there, wondering where all the fabulous prizes had gone. No cheap $2 cash prize, no store gift card, not even Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat.

I went shopping again yesterday and they gave me 26 more tickets (they’re doubling up on them now because the game is over this week). I’ll keep you posted, but people, don’t hold your breath.

* Though even the coupons were rather disappointing. I mean, 25 cents off baking soda?

Flavorful Meat

I got nothing today. There are some days where you just have nothing to say, really. What should I write about? That I had a few cups of chai? That I watched a little TV? That I wrote today? That I read a bunch of stuff online? That I paid a bill? That I opened the refrigerator and noticed I need more Diet Pepsi? Yes, I did all these things, but I don’t want to write about any of them today.

I will talk about the supermarket though. The place I go to (or one of them, since we have three big chains in town and none of them seem to have everything I want so I find myself going to a couple of them several times a week) put up some new signs out front several months ago. There are some signs that are predictable and logical, the kind of words and phrases you expect to see outside of a supermarket: “Fresh Bakery,” “Welcome,” Fresh-Picked Produce,” etc. And then there’s this one:

“Flavorful Meat.”

It’s baffling. Of all the ways you could describe the meat you sell, you choose “flavorful?” If you did want to discuss the meat you have for sale, shouldn’t you say something about the freshness of the meat, or that fact that it’s from grass-fed cows or that it’s the finest meat in the world, blessed by the Pope and escorted to the store via a crack security detail?

No, instead the store goes with the phrase “flavorful meat.” Honestly, if I’m buying food in your store I’m just going to assume it has flavor.

I’m really curious as to what words were rejected in favor of “flavorful.” “Fantastic?” “Meaty?” “Joyous?” “Finger-Lickin?”

Well, at least it has given some of the locals an idea for their band name.

Have a great weekend!