Waiting on the Bus

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The Reese’s Puffs Conundrum

Posted by Steven on May 4, 2010

Last week I grabbed a fresh box of Reese’s Puffs out of the pantry, poured some of it into a bowl, and immediately noticed something was wrong. There was a disproportionate ratio of peanut butter flavored puffs to chocolate flavored puffs, with the chocolate puffs seeming to be a mere formality amid a sea of peanut butter flavored pieces. Ordinarily the cereal had a nice balance of chocolate and peanut butter and this kept you from feeling like you were eating predominantly Coco Puffs or Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, which I’m not a fan of. Now the peanut butter puffs just sat there announcing their presence like they’d just won a nasty, hard fought divorce settlement with chocolate.

“Look I know you don’t really like me Steve, but the truth is chocolate and I, while appearing to have a harmonious relationship, have been feuding for about five years now and it has become apparent that the only way this cereal can survive in its current state is if there’s less chocolate in each box. ”

I know I’ll end up eating the cereal, and will have to, since my mom bought one of those 20 oz family size boxes that is intended to appeal to grocery stores that like to buy shit in bulk so they can sell it at a cheaper price to parents on a budget with a minimum of six kids, and are therefore unable to buy each child a box of their preferred cereal. Everyone’s stuck eating a box of a cereal they hate until they’re too tired to care anymore. Instead longing for the day when they can announce to the world that they’re finally slain the once insurmountable box of Berry Burst Cheerios.

The color of the puffs themselves looked washed out, with jagged edges, and when I took my first bite the taste was subdued and not as sweet. I don’t want to describe it any further because I’m already bordering on a Steve Almond Candyfreak level of hyperbolic description, but that one bowl game me enough pause to wonder if I should ever eat another box of Reese’s Puffs. I slogged through an entire bowl of the stuff and none of the subsequent bites did anything to counter my original impression that the cereal had been fundamentally altered and would never be the same.

I went online and saw that general mills is making a conscious effort to reduce the sugar content of all their kids cereals so that’s probably why it tasted different to me but I just don’t understand why I hadn’t noticed it earlier. According to the article these changes went into effect in late 2009 and General Mills hopes that this measure will cause sales to increase, as the cereal is supposedly healthier with less sugar. I think they’re idiots for thinking that kids won’t slowly come to the realization their favorite cereal doesn’t taste the way they’ve come to expect. Once they’re aware of it kids aren’t going to react to this change positively and will just move on to campaigning for some cereal that hasn’t been exposed as a danger to humanity by David Zinczenko and the rest of his health army. No child whose parents can afford sugar loaded cereals should have to grow up eating a steady diet of Kirkland Signature Spiced Pecan.

Some of you may think I’m too old to be eating a cereal like Reese’s Puffs but I don’t care. If George Carlin could talk about how his Rice Krispies told him to fuck off every morning and people laughed with him instead of questioning his sanity, I think I’m entitled to talk about Reese’s Puffs.

I don’t have the omniscient “I’ve based my entire career on the assumption that people are too dumb to read and interpret nutritional labels correctly, and thus will automatically eat an entire piece of Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie without thinking unless I create a sufficent amount of paranoia in their minds before they lift the fork to their mouth” Zinczenko’s data around to verify this, but I think my breakfast cereal rotation of Frosted Flakes, Wheaties, Honey Nut Cheerios is healthy enough to compensate for my having a box of Reese’s Puffs every couple of weeks. However my dad still thinks that I don’t eat healthy enough and likes to make a quick inventory of all cereal in the house by shaking each box before definitively stating whether it’s okay to buy a new box.

“You’ve got *shakes* half a box of Chex cereal here, *shakes* three fourths of a box of Wheaties and an unopened box of Honey Bunches of Oats here. Why hasn’t it been opened?”
“I don’t really like it dad, why don’t you help eat some of this cereal if it’s such a big problem?”

My dad never eats cereal because he’s too busy trying to use up a cargo load of Eight O’ Clock Coffee bean packages given to him by my mom, all the while complaining that she’s not buying new blends fast enough, or that she’s always buying the wrong ones.

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Sometimes you have to make a fool of yourself for the sake of your fraternity.

Posted by Steven on April 18, 2010

Check out this video to watch my brother (he’s the guy with the white hat) do an elaborate dance routine with the rest of his fraternity. They ended up winning first place, because as we all know my brother kicks ass academically without even giving a maximum effort and every group he’s involved in is destined to come in first.

For some unknown reason they call the paths that separate the various dorms at Marietta College “malls”, hence the school’s blog title “Writing on the Mall.” If I went there I’d call them sidewalks to stress accuracy, and to piss people off.

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AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Sphere by Michael Crichton

Posted by Steven on November 12, 2009

Sphere is probably one of my favorite audio books. I first listened to it when I was only 12 years old and going through somewhat of a Michael Crichton phase, even though up to that point I’d only experienced his books through abridged audio titles. I’d tried to read the actual books before, but my appreciation was tainted by the movie adaptations of Crichton’s books. When reading Jurassic Park I kept waiting for the velociraptior to jump out and gut somebody within the first 30 pages, or at least some indication that I was going to eventually see the nasty one sided dinosaur human face offs the movie was famous for. However Crichton fancied himself an educator more so than a thriller writer, with the books serving as mere platforms for him to advance his ideas. That’s why The Lost World begins with a chapter on the K-T Boundary that goes on for like 40 pages before the first chapter which is entitled the Lost World Hypothesis.

All of this scientific rambling is supposed to add credibility to the plot and make the books seem deeper than they really are, but if you strip away this dense layer that is found in all of Crichton’s work you’ll find that he uses the same plot over an over: a group of scientists, mathematicians, PhD’s etc go explore some new or unexplained phenomenon that has a chance to benefit society, but ultimately this force turns destructive and kills nearly every one of the main characters, leaving those who remain to take home the book’s message that man can’t control nature. The Crichton audio books are great because they get rid of al the jargon and theory and leave in the action sequences.

Sphere and Jurassic Park were produced by Random House in the 80’s and both feature a 30 second classical music intro with opera singers belting out a da ta da ta da ta da” melody in descending octaves. A xylophone and strings then join the party as the book’s title is being introduced. This intro, referred to as the AudioBooks Signature on the box, was composed by Scott Killian and is likely featured on all Random House titles from the decade. From what I can gather the tune faded out sometime in the mid 90’s, as it isn’t featured on the audio version of the sequel to Jurassic Park, The Lost World. Edward Asner uses a specific voice for each character in the book and does an especially good impression of the military man Captain Hal Barnes who is leading a group of mathematicians and scientists to explore a spaceship that has appeared on the ocean floor. Soon the team is trying to decode alien messages and fight a giant squid. The abridgment gives the listener just enough character development to where you aren’t surprised by later events, but they did leave out the death of one important character. Each squid encounter and other important turns in the story is augmented by creepy, synthesizer music that seems out of place at times and can also seem excessive if you listen to the book for long periods, but it quickly establish the book’s atmosphere and tone given its abridged length. The music along with Asner’s narration transforms a mediocre book into a 3 hour thrill ride. The audio book is no longer in print but is available for download at audible.com and is probably collecting dust at your local library. If you come across it check it out, but it’s far from an essential audio book.

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Audiobook Review: The Library Policeman

Posted by Steven on November 11, 2009

The Library Policeman may be unknown to some casual Stephen King fans because it is actually a novella in his book Four Past Midnight, along with The Langoliers, The Sun Dog, and Secret Window, Secret Garden. All of these titles are available separately from HighBridge audio with differing narrators, unlike Different Seasons, which was released by Recorded Books back in the early 80’s with Frank Muller handling all the narration. The stories also feature musical interludes that usually pop up at the end of every chapter or during the most suspenseful moments of the narrative. A common criticism of the book as a whole is that for each of these stories King just rehashes an idea he explored more fully in an earlier novel, and with the exception of the Langoliers, this is a fair criticism, with the The Library Policeman being a variation of the plot used in IT. If you haven’t read that book you should probably read it so you can fully appreciate the story on its own merits without feeling the need to draw constant parallels between the two.

The story is about Sam Peebles, an insurance agent from Junction City, Iowa who ends up getting roped into giving a speech at a local meeting, Sam isn’t the most confident speaker, so he ends up going to the library to get some books and that’s where he runs into Ardelia Lortz, a librarian everyone in the town would just like to forget. The story is not one of King’s best in terms of its pacing and construction. It takes a while to get going and Peebles’ first encounter with the librarian is stretched out far too long and is excessively wordy, as King tries too hard to establish that Lortz and the library itself are evil. He violates the old English teacher rule of writing, “show, don’t tell”, even going so far as to tell the reader “[The Library] was spooky.” However the scene where Peebles first meets the Library Policeman is as scary as anything he has written and the flashback sequence late in the story is so disturbing it’s difficult to read/listen to. King could’ve easily left this scene out or made it less graphic, but then the reader wouldn’t fully understand the extent of Sam Peebles’ fears.

Ken Howard isn’t a well known name in the audiobook industry but he does a fine job reading the story, creating distinct voices for all the characters. Even though all of his female characters sound about 40-50 years old, he does a great job characterizing Dave Duncan, the town drunk who has a troubled past that intersects with Ardelia Lortz, giving him a deep, weathered and reflective voice that demands that you respect him more fully as a character.

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Socrates lost his lunch ticket

Posted by Steven on November 11, 2009

This an excerpt from a longer story I’m writing about how comments made in a high school lunchroom can spin out of control. I wrote the first half of it back in spring 2007 and am now trying to make the second half mesh with this one by maintaining the same style, and hopefully there won’t be a noticiable shift in tone, which can happen when attemping to finish a piece of writing after a long layoff.

I recently graduated from a community college and moved on to a private university that I thought would be better than the community college, considering how much you have to pay to go there, but I was wrong. The college I’m going to now is worse. The DSL connection borders on dial up speed and tables and chairs are constantly being moved around to accommodate clubs and special interest groups such as the feminist society, meaning that if you wanna sit and relax you have to try to squeeze your ass comfortably into cube shaped couches. Worst of all for a directionally challenged idiot like me, every building on the campus is brick and only labeled on one side with the name of some well respected board member who is probably dead.
When I asked a security guard where a building was, I usually got an answer like this, “You wanna get to the Jackson building? Well then turn right, then left, and then continue on and you’ll see it ahead of ‘ya—a brick building.”

With all the brick used on that campus, you’d think they’d just build some kind of walkway lined with commemorative bricks.
“Today marks a new beginning in the history of this university, and I am proud to commemorate the opening of our first ever walkway. Brad always said he wanted people to remember the contributions he made to this school in a special way, but I just couldn’t come up with a good idea to accomplish this. I thought about naming a star after him, but there’re a million of those things, it was expensive as hell, and I was never good at using a star chart. Plus I’m sure the only constellation his star could be a part of would be one of “Rocking bed”, as he rides that co-worker of his Terra all the way to The Big Dipper. Even before I caught them in bed I knew I couldn’t compete with her. She was 30 years younger than me and had twice my bust size. That’s when I decided the best way to honor him would be with a commemorative brick on this walkway. I take comfort in knowing every day now thousands of students will step on his name and slowly grind his memory down to dust. And so now without further to do I shall cut the ribbon with these giant scissors that are more like pruning shears. Here ya go kids, stomp him out!”

Another weird thing about the students from both schools is the University students are so unlike the community college kids, so—motivated. In my first semester there I found nobody I could relate to, no one like me in my literature class who thought, as I did, that we read too many novels and that our “classroom discussions” had so many awkward pauses they could drive an innocent man to admit to murdering the literary cannon. During these times I wanted to tell the teacher:

“Faulkner titled this book Absalom! Absalom!? It should be called Asshole! Asshole! to describe the arrogant, self sophisticated classical literature loving jerk that happens to read this book out of his own free will. Also, Al Borland called from the set of Tool Time and he wants his wardrobe back.”
I never said any of his though and instead sat in a room of kids who pretended to love the stuff we read and tried hard to come up with thought proving questions to bounce off the Al Borland clone. One girl always came to class with hundreds of sticky notes popping out of her book along with passages she had highlighted in six different colors that’d be sure to iniate at least one discussion question each class. It was disgusting.

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Your mother’s so fat she couldn’t fit down a gopher hole!

Posted by Steven on January 8, 2009

Yesterday my brother commented that I’d gained some weight and that I was eating Twix bars with such wreckless abandon I was eating like “those kids in that one commercial, gobbling Gopher Cakes.”  I instantly  thought of the PSA he was referring to and cracked up. I first saw the commercial on the VHS copy of Dr. Doolittle with Eddie Murphy and I couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, I think it may be funnier than the movie itself. This commercial was followed by a promo for the movie Our Friend Martin

What makes this commercial so funny is that the kids play it straight until the very end when you see the Get Up. Get  Out. message. There’s not the typical PSA set up of a group of popular kids approaching the nerdy kid, pressuring him to try pot, at which point the protagonist says something like “Pot is for losers with no direction in their lives.” Because the setup is atypical, you think it’s a real commercial  and laugh at it, rather than see it as a stupid, patronizing  stereotypical PSA.

But what really elevates this commercial to hall of fame status is the jingle that encourages the kids to sit around and engage in group gluttony. It’s a punky number that lasts only 30 seconds, but it’s so catchy it seems longer. If it were released as a single it surely would’ve topped the Billboard Charts. And just when you think it’s over, the singer shouts “’till you explode!” one more time. Here are the lyrics in case you want to sing the song throughout the day:

Go for a mouthful!
Go for the fun!
Gopher Cakes are for everyone!

Just one snack is what it takes
And it’s Gopher Gopher Gopher Cakes!
Open wide, stuff your face!
There’s always room for more Gopher Cakes!

Empy the box
Every load!
Eat those Gopher Cakes til you explode!

‘Till you explode!

Get Up. Get Out. Kill Some Gophers

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Dickinson-Whitman poetry slam no 1

Posted by Steven on January 8, 2009

Spring semester has started up for me and after a weeks worth of classes, I think I can say I won’t have any really tough classes. I have Logic, Sport Psychology, Computer Communications, and American Lit. I’ve always believed you can get a rough estimate of how tough a class is going to be just by looking at the teacher’s syllabus. If its 4-5 pages including a simple outline schedule for the class, you shouldn’t have a rough go of it provided you work hard. If however the syllabus is over seven pages with long paragraphs, ten dollar words, a lot of bolded underlined text and includes a schedule that indicates what you should have for breakfast on exam days, you’re screwed. Humanities, one of the most difficult classes I’ve ever had, was run by a teacher that handed out a 16 page syllabus and told us that important items were in red–the whole thing was in red.

Anyway in my American Lit class we’ve started out this semester reading some poetry from Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and it reminded me that I’ve written many poems, but only a few that I thought were any good. To me poetry’s too complicated, too focused on things like rhyme scheme, rhythm and meter, tone, and understated significance. Sure technically you’re allowed to write in free verse and just say FUCK IT! but really–what’s the skill in that? 

I’ve decided to post some of my best poems on here for all to see. I’m not really a poet and I think the typical Haiku is a Japanese equivalent of a sneeze, but I think in the following poems I really caught lightning in a bottle. They all rhyme and attempt to tell a meaningful story. They both have a dark, sarcastic sense of humor and will spit in the face of any Shel Silverstein poem you may happen to find during your nostalgic conquests. Remember: even though you may be falling up in life, you’ll still end up on your ass.

Here’s the first poem written about 4 years ago. It started out as a free write brainstorming exercise in my creative writing class. We were supposed to write poems that conformed to all these conventions and I ended up rebelling, writing this poem. Once I started writing it, I got into a rhythm and found I could actually rhyme other words besides cat and bat. I really started to enjoy myself. I finished it in one night and posted it on the Storymania website. The place where you could say my “online writing career” started in the fall of 2002. Before that I had just written two journals about my middle school years. How are they? Well let’s just say they’re like my journal entries on here, just a lot less focused, filled with bad aside jokes, and a love triangle of sorts.

This first poem is called Is That My Fat Talking Again?

The pizza is calling my name.
It calls, but I believe I can resist its playful tease.
Or can I?
The pizza wishes to suffocate me beneath layers of cheese.
I try to resist, but the pizza seems to insist that I eat it.
Oh, what agony, what pain.
Why do I fear weight gain?
But food is the only person or thing
That doesn’t think I’m fat.
Every chair I sit in groans or squeaks.
The ladies whistle and call, “Hey Fat Cat.”
No one understands the pleasures of food.
My meals always end so soon.
All my friends know my job.
When we go out to eat
They eat and drink and chat.
Then I interrupt and ask
“Are you going to finish that?”
 I eat so much; I can barely get out of my seat.
I tell my friends stories, tall tales really.
They say, “You’re kidding, you really ate all that in one sitting?”
“Yes it’s true.” I say. This time I’ve bit off more than I can chew.”
Then somebody always says “Why don’t you go marry an elephant at the zoo?”
I have considered this, many a time
But I always end up looking for the nearest elevator sign.
I know my unwillingness to exercise will lead to my demise.
I’m getting fatter all the time.
I’m breaking scales left and right.
By know my weight must be out of sight.
I ask all the ladies out, they all say no, I think I’ll pass
Not after last time, when you passed gas.
I say, “Well what if we just hang out and chill?”
“I guess that’s OK, as long as you don’t eat the dinner bill.”
And if I ever do get a date she says, “What have you been eating? It smells like you’ve been cheating?”
“No I haven’t.” I sigh. “Are you going to finish your pie?”
 Oh the jokes, when will they cease?
 I know I’m obese.
Children laugh and ask their mothers “Mommy is that man pregnant?”
“No Billy that man is a dunce.
 But he does look more pregnant than I was at nine months.”
I am not sure what to say at this.
It feels like I am falling into an abyss.
Maybe women are really what I crave.
Ah who am I kidding? I couldn’t get laid in a cave.
I stare at the pizza, trying to resist, but I give in.
For fat I will be fat I have been.
Is that my fat talking again?
I stumble home, barely making it through the door
It’s always such a chore.
I crash on the couch and turn on the TV.
I put down the remote in shock.
I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
Some guy thin as a rail looks like he just escaped from the local jail.
“Are you overweight? Do you eat constantly?” he screams.
 “It doesn’t matter how much you consume
You can lose 150 pounds by June
using my amazing formula!
All you have to is pick up the phone and call this number!”
Suddenly I want ham, turkey, and cheddar.
So what if I’m fat, I’ll hide it all beneath a sweater.
Is that my fat talking again?
I watch the TV a little more.
Until I am convinced.
After all people who have used this formula haven’t been the same since.
I decide to pick up the phone.
Who am I kidding? I’ll always be an overweight baboon
I’ll never lose 150 pounds by June.
Is that my fat talking again?

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WARNING: Ferns should not be used as substitute for dental floss

Posted by Steven on December 3, 2008

About a month ago I was hanging out in my room and checking out how many books have accumulated over the years in my closet. This something that should only be done during the summer, once you’ve done other time killing activities like checking your e-mail, swatting fruit fries that have invaded the house thanks to the “2 bunches for 1” banana offer from Aldi’s, and listening to every song on your mp3 player twice. Judging by some of the titles in my collection, I’d say it began somewhere in the mid 90’s and ended about 3 years ago. Still, I have some pretty good books to prop up the overall value. You’ve got classic and underrated Stephen King with It and The Eyes of the Dragon respectively, and Seabiscuit, which was made into a movie known as “Spider Man Rides a Horse”

But the one book that really took me back to my younger days was, Where The Red Fern Grows This story is is line with other young adult animal stories such as Old Yeller, and more recently, Shiloh. In most of these stories, a young boy forms a strong bond with a wild dog that is tested by his family, financial obligations, and some asshole who wants the dog dead. By the time it’s all over the kid has learned about the sanctity of life, and how audiences are suckers for an ending where the dog kicks the bucket.

I had gotten the book the summer before 5th grade and decided to read it for a book report that year. The book reports that year were different from others I’d done up to that point because we didn’t have to get up in front of the class and talk about our book’s main points. No, we had to go sit with the teacher at a table in the back of the room and tell her about our book in quiet hushed tones while she wrote down comments on a notepad. Even in 5th grade I could recognize that the whole thing was just a little too intimate and weird for a classroom setting. It was like being on a job interview that had the feel of a speed dating session—rejection starts with a ring of a bell, kids.

Because my book was one of those good ol’ American dog tales, I thought an A+ was in the bag. It was with this confidence that I breezed through my report, talking about the book’s main conflict, the rising action and the falling action, and was even fielding post report questions from my teacher pretty smoothly, until she threw one at me that wasn’t in the manual:

“Do you believe in the secret of the red fern?”

Secret of the…was I supposed to say yes?—she actually believed that shit?

Like a pro I looked her right in the eye and said, “Yes. Yes I do.”
“I see”, she said, scribbling more notes down.
“Well you may believe in the red fern and all of its mysterious power, but your breath killed it—along with any of the surrounding plant life, plus Billy’s hunting dogs Old Dan and Little Ann. It’s terrible.”

I was taken aback. Was that supposed to be a backhanded compliment? First she tried to impose her belief in the red fern on me, and now–she was calling me a murderer with bad breath. It was too much. I looked around, trying to regain my composure. I blamed the extra bowl of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch I’d had that morning—that stuff could stay on your breath for hours. They never mentioned that on the box.

I wondered what else she’d written down on that notepad of hers. Had she written “future homosexual” by my name because I was wearing a hand me down ribbed purple sweater with a coat of arms under interlocking swords on the breast pocket for the third time that week? (It wasn’t my fault, my mom was too stupid to know that injecting purple into my wardrobe would cause other students to call me gay until the end of sixth grade.)

“Do you have a breath mint, Steven?” she whispered.

“Huh? I’m not gay!”

“I never said…listen Steven—

“I don’t answer to that name any more. Just call me The Great Halitosis Fern”

PS According to this link you can check the vibe your breath is giving off to others by licking your wrist and smelling it. Try not to do this in public; you’ll look like a cat. However, if you must, do it in the privacy of a restroom stall. The process will be complicated by the surrounding smells, but I’m sure your breath will win out.

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Cell phone chaos 2

Posted by Steven on May 10, 2007

On Tuesday I got my second cell phone in roughly three years, and like when I got my first cell phone, my brother played a prominent role in how things unfolded. I’ve been out of school since Monday and have been bumming around trying to keep myself busy so my Dad doesn’t bug me about being a college student with no close friends, internships or modes of transportation lined up for the summer, meaning there’s no way for me to leave the house when he’s hard at work—cursing out his computer. Basically for the first time in three years, I have a summer with no immediate responsibilities, so hopefully I can produce some quality journal entries in the coming months.

However my dad thinks I’m at an age where I should be taking charge of my life, and that if I’m not proactive and do something life altering soon, there’s a good chance I’ll never become a successful comedy writer. More likely since I’m handicapped, fate will tie me to a flaming wheelchair and send my helpless body rocketing at 200 miles per hour down a slippery slope lined with rejection letters, pink slips, and angry break up calls from imaginary women. Finally the chair will dump me into my parents basement and I’ll be stranded there for the next 30 years, left to contemplate what a loser I am. Nothing funny about that is there, Mr. Comedian?

I was washing up after lunch at the sink when I heard an alarm sound outside.

“What was that?” my brother asked.
“I don’t know.”
“Didn’t you hear it?”

“Yeah but I don’t know what it was. It sounded like a car alarm. Nothing to worry about,” I said.

My brother bolted down the stairs and entered the kitchen.
“That sound was weird man, are you sure it was nothing? Maybe it was one of the carbon monoxide detectors in the house. Those are working right?”

“I’m telling you it was just a car alarm. The kitchen isn’t filling with poison gas.”

“How do you know? The human eye can’t see CO2. I’m feeling a little woozy. I’m calling mom,” he said.

He pulled out his phone and there was a loud crack as it fell to the floor and the flip section of the phone broke apart, held to the phone limply by a section of exposed cables. He stared at the floor in shock.

“Shit…oh shit,” he muttered, sounding like he was gonna cry. “How am I gonna get all my numbers off of this thing.” He picked it up and tried to turn it on. The phone’s backlit screen flashed white. He probably had a rolodex of numbers in there from girls he had known as far back as middle school and now they were all gone—it would take him years to rebuild it.

“Looks like it’s completely busted. Want me to get the duct tape? I’ve heard it protects against Radon. Forget Corbon Monoxide, I’ve heard that stuff will give ya a tumor in 30 seconds flat ”

“Don’t touch my phone all right? Just shut up!”
“Are you afraid I might break it?”

He called my mom and tied to explain the situation: “…Steven and I heard this weird noise outside and so I went to call you and my phone fell out of my pocket and broke. No it’s really broken, I can’t even get it to turn on. I don’t know where the sound came from. Why would I break it on purpose? That’s just stupid,” he hung up.

She came home later and said that I could go with them to a Verizon store to pick out a new phone. She had wanted to wait until July to get new phones for the both of us so that she could get them for free, but now she was suspicious.

“Mark didn’t break his phone just so he could get a new one. I saw it fall out of his pocket.”
“I believe him. Just be quiet.”

“Now Mark how did this phone break?”
“I dropped it,”

“I just told you—“

“I said I believe him! Now we’re going to the Verizon store and I’m hoping we can still get at least one for free. I don’t wanna spend a ton of money on these.”
Every time my mom or dad pulls more than 20 dollars out of their wallet you can hear it scream in agony.

We ended up getting two Samsung camera/camcorder phones with V Cast, which I’ll doubt I’ll use—it’s just another thing my parents will bitch about being too expensive, even though I pay for everything related to my phone.

It’s only a matter of time before the damn thing comes to life and takes an obituary photo of me in a flaming wheelchair.

UPDATE 7/12/07 Last weekend I had to get a replacement phone for my new Samsung because I unwittingly left it in my shorts pocket after work and it ended up going through a spin cycle in the washing machine. My mom was pissed initally, but I ended up getting the same model phone, (blue this time), for only like $100, so it wasn’t a disaster.

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Remembering Peter Boyle

Posted by Steven on December 10, 2006



On Tuesday night Dec 12th, Peter Boyle died from heart disease and multiple myeloma. I didn’t find out about it until the next afternoon when I went to check my e-mail. I stared at the screen and reread the headline several times, still in shock. Inside I felt hollow and had to fight back the urge to cry.


Ordinarily an actor’s death wouldn’t mean that much to me, but Boyle played Frank Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, one of my favorite sitcoms and TV characters of all time. Before Raymond, he was known for playing the monster in Young Frankenstein and Wizard in Taxi Driver.


I started watching the show during the fifth season when I was a freshman in high school and liked it immediately. All the characters were funny in a unique way, but I got the biggest laughs from Frank. He was the one character who I could really identify with on the show: a guy who wasn’t comfortable as the center of attention or outside of his home, never really seemed to get along with his family or other people due to the way he expressed his views, and he never got any credit for trying to fit in. I never grew tired of him on the show.



As Ray Romano’s dad, Boyle was the lynchpin that held the show together. Even people who hated the show still had respect for Boyle. If a series of jokes happened to fall flat, Boyle would always manage to rescue the scene with Frank’s trademark expression “Holy crap!” Unfortunately during the show’s final season Boyle looked old and tired. He was given the same type of lines as in earlier episodes, but his voice was noticeably weaker and had lost its sharp sarcastic edge. He still gave it his all, but the show just wasn’t the same without him at 100 percent. 


His talents on ELR were always underappreciated. He won an Emmy in 1996 for an appearance on the X Files as Clyde Bruckman, but never won one for his work on Raymond, despite being nominated seven times and the rest of the cast winning at least one Emmy. The only reason I can give to explain this is that Boyle played his character too well, but it wasn’t any fault of his. The writers of the show gave many heart to heart exchanges between the characters, but those involving Frank are hard to find. The voters must have seen him as a great actor who was unable to show the necessary lighter side of his character. What a load of bull.


That’s why I’m here: to present the lighter side of Frank Barone in the hopes that Boyle will get his ELR Emmy in the afterlife.


The best example of Frank’s compassionate side can been seen in the season five episode,

“The Canister”. An argument breaks out between Debra and Marie because she believes Debra has a special canister of hers. Debra denies this, only to have it turn up later. She quickly decides to dispose of the canister by throwing it in the garbage, but twins dig it out of there so she decides to sneak it back into Frank and Marie’s herself. Marie catches Debra with the canister, but Frank takes the blame for it, claiming he was hiding it from Marie. When Debra asks him why he covered for her, Frank replies “You’re like my daughter.”



The theme of Debra being equivalent to Frank’s daughter was used again in the season eight episode “Debra at The Lodge.” Here Debra takes a job at the lodge with Frank and all of his retired buddies, appearing to fit in. But Frank breaks lodge policy and tells Ray what is being said about Debra after she leaves, coming to her defense at the end of the episode.


Finally, in “Boys Therapy”, Frank tells Ray and Robert his father used to hit him as a form of discipline, but he refused to do this when raising them.


In my favorite episode of the series, “Meeting the Parents”, Boyle delivers some classic lines as Frank squares off with the conservative parents of Robert’s girlfriend, Hank and Pat McDougal. No doubt this episode pissed off conservative and religious voters, but I like its edginess. Here are some of Frank’s best lines in the episode:


(Referring to Hank McDougal) Who made you the prayer sheriff?

I bet all their stuff about church is a load of crap too. Probably spends his Sundays watching tv in a muffin shop.


Dear Lord please keep this in-law family the hell away from me!


Hank: And you can stay the heck away from us too.


Frank: You can say ‘heck’ all you want, He knows you mean Hell!


(After Hank leads a prayer asking that the two families get along)


I can beat that! 

Frank was best in ELR when he was just sitting in the recliner listening to a conversation and then out of the blue he would make great sarcastic comment, which is something I usually do at parties—but I’m not rewarded with a thunderous laugh track like Peter was.


Frank Barone was the first TV character who made wearing a cardigan cool. He proved it’s not how you wear it, it’s the attitude you have while wearing it. Before Frank wore the cardigan the only noteworthy people associated with it were Cliff Huxtable, who wore nothing but ugly sweaters on his show, and Mr. Rogers. If I get a cardigan this Christmas, I won’t comlain, because Frank Barone wouldn’t want me to complain. He’d say,


“You’re a pansy, just wear the damn thing with pride.”


Thanks for the laughs Peter.


This tribute video highlights his life and some of his best moments on Everybody Loves Raymond. Enjoy 




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