Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Creature Double Feature

I saw some very exciting news on the WB56 10 O'Clock News last week. Well, not actually on the news, but on one of the commercials during the news. Creature Double Feature is returning. True, it looks like its only a one-time deal for now, but there's still the possibility that it could be returning on a semi-regular basis.

For people of a certain age (roughly, my age) and possessed of a certain taste (roughly, my taste), Creature Double Feature is a cultural touchstone chock full of Godzilla battling various multi-headed space creatures, giant flying turtles carrying small Japanese children, and kind of creepy, kind of boring British vampire films. Many was the sunny and beautiful Saturday afternoon I spent glued in front of the television, coming down from the sugary high of breakfast cereals and Saturday morning cartoons, only to be lifted up again by War of the Gargantuans or Return of the Super Colossal Man.

Creature Double Feature comes from the tale end of an era when there were no VCRs, no Internet, and there were still large pockets of the world (well, my neighborhood, anyway) that didn't have cable television. Finding something entertaining to watch was the result of either a crapshoot or careful analysis of the TV Guide. But every Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., there was a virtual guarantee of television goodness, complete with men in rubber monster suits, to please the 10-year-old boy in everyone.

This Saturday, Channel 56 is showing Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster and The Giant Gila Monster. Hopefully, there will be 10-year-old boys out there who will realize that there is more to life than gameboys, Ipods, and instant messaging. Yes indeed, there is a whole other world of men in giant rubber monster suits and giant radioactive lizards. Thank you, Creature Double Feature.

Friday, June 16, 2006

My major accomplishment of the day

Yes, it was quite an amazing feat today, as I managed to take the six ties that have been left in my car over the past month and brought them inside. I even made it so far to hand said ties up in my closet on my tie hanger.

Now, on the face of things, dear reader, this may not seem like a task that would carry such weight as being my major accomplishment of the day, but to consider the full magnitude of the task, you must take several facts into consideration:

1) I do not lead a very exciting life.
True, bringing the ties in from my car pales in comparison to my preventative home maintenance the other night, but then again it isn’t everyday that I break out the power drill. Of course, when I do break out the power drill, there is the added excitement in the fact that I always forget to charge the damn thing. Which means that the other night, I spent the better part of a half-hour standing in front of the medicine cabinet after I undrilled one of the screws holding it to the wall, trying to keep the medicine cabinet from falling with one hand and trying to get the drill battery into the charger with the other. Eventually, it all worked out, a I completed the Herculean task of removing one screw holding the medicine cabinet to the wall and screwing it into a new location in the hopes that it will give us at least one more year of the medicine cabinet not crashing to the floor. Needless to say, Carrie was very impressed with my proactive display of manly toolfulness. But I digress. This type of excitement does not happen every day, leading the pride I take in today’s accomplishment of bringing my ties in from the car.

2)Bringing the ties in from my car is something I’ve been meaning to do for weeks.
So how do the ties get left in my car in the first place? Well, the first most obvious reason is because I have to wear a tie to work. I won’t address the whole issue of how I feel about having to wear a tie to work everyday (well four out of five days), mainly because my boss occasionally reads my blog, so the less said about that, the better. Let’s just say, that as soon as I’m out the door, the tie is off and has ben flung into the back seat. And by the time I get home, it would be just too much of an effort to reach into the back seat, lift the tie up, and carry it inside with me, even if it was on my mind to do such a thing. So the tie stays in the back seat until it is joined by several of its brothers. Of course, there is some upside to not bringing my ties back into the house, since it means I don’t necessarily have to worry about picking out a tie from my closet in the morning. Which means that for the past month, I’ve basically been recycling the same three or four of my ties, no matter what I’m wearing. In fact, it’s not all that unusual for me to wear my one go-to tie (blue and green checks) several times a week. There is a certain economy to dressing in this method of picking my ties from the back seat, but it has also left me feeling guilty about wearing any other ties I have in my closet, since I know in my heart that it will only end up getting left in my car with others, and I will eventually reach the tipping point where I have more ties in my car than I do in my closet. So I have been thinking about bringing the ties in for some time. So why haven’t I? Well, sometimes I just forget to do stuff. I can actively be thinking about bringing my ties inside when I’m turning down Haskell Street, but by the time I reach my driveway a half-mile away, the thoughts have been pushed out of my head by other, more important stuff. Like how the Red Sox’s new third basemen looks suspiciously like he should be a character on the Simpsons, or how the Hood one-quart plastic milk bottle may be the worst designed food packaging of all time (you just try to open that damn bottle and pour milk on your cereal without spilling milk all over your hands and the counter, go on, I dare you.)

But today, I would not be denied, five crumpled ties, out of the car, into the closet. Sure, it’s not a big deal like getting married or even getting published in a reputable literary magazine, or using a power tool, but in the grand scheme of things, I will take it as a major accomplishment for the day.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Seven-stop shopping

It was a sure sign of summer being on the way today as Carrie and I made our first trip of the season to our farm stands, bringing Eric along for the ride to experience our multi-pronged approach to grocery shopping (You really have to stop at a separate store for yogurt? he asks. Of course we do.) Nothing like shopping at a farm stand on yet another windy, rainy, cold Saturday to get you in the mood for summer. Still, darn it, we didn’t let the weather get in our way as we stopped at Canaan Farms in Wenham (on their opening day, no less) and then made a side trip to Russell Orchards in Ipswich.

I really do like farm stands, with their delicious arrays of native-grown, brightly colored and arranged vegetables. This is a pretty neat trick,since I don’t actually like eating vegetables all that much. There’s a story in me somewhere about fake vomiting the carrots my mother made when I was 7-years-old (on the plus side, I was almost never made to eat veggies again.)

In all fairness, I am much more likely to eat vegetables in the summer, when I can cook (or overcook, burn, char) them on the grill. Yay, grilling. As long as I’m burning it over a charcoal flame, I would probably enjoy old socks and sneaker soles cooked on the grill.
So we pick up some impressive looking greens, tomatoes, and peppers at Canaan Farms that I’ll soon be pushing across my plate and we head to Russell Orchards, where we pick up a bottle of cider and some pancake mix, but unfortunately, the strawberries aren’t ready yet...
which means we head pack to Canaan Farms to pick up some strawberries before heading to the Market Basket in Danvers. In one of the day's nicest surprises, the Market Basket is only moderately busy, not the Disney World during February school vacation busy that it usually is on a Saturday. After the Market Basket, it’s off to Henry’s for the yogurt, and then we notch up a new stop on our shopping tour, Rowand’s Fish Market near the Beverly-Salem bridge.

Just for good measure, later in the day, Eric and I make a quick snack run to the Fruitful Basket. And Crosby’s. And Wild Oats. All-in-all, we’re rounding into shape for our Saturday shopping expeditions, even if there was no need to stop at Trader Joe’s this weekend.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Flying over Bridgewater in Bigfoot's UFO

Apparently, the area where I grew up has its own version of the Bermuda Triangle .

This is kind of sad for me to find out now, having moved away from the Greater Bridgewater-Middleboro area about eight years ago. Now I live in Beverly, where the biggest paranormal mystery is the debate of the existence of the “Big Cat” that periodically gets sighted in my part of the woods. In all likelihood, its just a really fat house cat that someone lets roam around during the day. Granted, there is all the witch lore going on next door in Salem, but I was never that back into the ol’ black magic scene.
Nope, when I was growing up, I devoured books on flying saucers, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. I would have loved the chance to have seen a UFO in my own hometown. Of course, had I really had a close encounter as a kid, I probably would have been scared out of my Tuff-skins, seeing as fireworks scared the hell out of me until I was 12, and, as I recently admitted, I still get a little nervous just going through the car wash.

Still, I probably devoted more time to studying the Big Three of the weird world in elementary school and junior high than I did to science and math. Plus, I was always convinced that Bigfoot would have liked me. Other than kidnapping the random hunter or two, Bigfoot always seemed like a pretty reasonable sort who just wanted to keep to himself.

The closest I ever came to a UFO encounter came years later, when I was working my first professional job at the Wareham newspaper. And by close, I mean that I had several telephone conversations with a drunk guy who was convinced that he was seeing lights flying overhead at night. He tried to get me to come down to his trailer park at night so I could take pictures of his “spaceships”.

“It’s just like, wham, they’re zigzagging all over the place, turning red and blue. I’ve seen them every night for the past week,” he told me.

I never did make it down to the UFO trailer park and I never had the heart to tell my friend that the number of colored lights he saw at night probably had a direct relation to the amount of cheap wine he drank.

But who knows, maybe some day I’ll be driving along a dark highway, and Bigfoot will give me a little wave as he flies by on his way to visit Nessie. It would make me feel like all my early years of reading were worthwhile.

Friday, June 02, 2006

At the Car Wash

It takes a lot to get me to the car wash, at least for my car. In case you are unfamiliar with my car (well, technically Carrie's car, since the title is still in her name), it's a white 1998 Toyota Corolla.

In and of itself, there's nothing particularly wrong with that. I mean, probably no one's ideal of a dream car, but still, it's good, reliable transportation. My Corolla has been paid off for two years and still runs fairly well. I've probably only put about 3 or 400 bucks worth of work into it since it's been paid off.

As far as keeping the car looking shiny and clean, well, that's not so much my thing. There's a giant dent on the hood where a tree fell on it, and at least two of the hub caps are missing. The interior of the car isn't the messiest of any car I've owned, but I still manage to keep up a healthy collection of ties, out-of-season clothing and the occasional discarded fast food containers. About the only modification I've made to the decor of the car is a Pembroke-Welsh Corgi sticker on the back. I am just that kind of badass.

Taking all of the into consideration, it really takes a lot to get me to bother with a car wash. Until last Thursday, I think the closest I'd ever gotten to an official car wash was using the windshield wiper squeegee at the gas station to wipe off extraneous bird doo from the roof of my car.

But over the last week, even I had reached my limit with how disgustingly dirty the outside of my car had gotten. Apparently, where I park my car in the driveway is underneath a tree that's been dripping a heady combination of pollen, sap, and some kind of little black seed. About the only thing the outside of my car was missing was a light coating of gypsy moth caterpillars. My boss said it looked like I had driven through some kind of tobacco-spitting contest. I'd park my car at work or at Carrie's work, and for the first time in my life, I was embarrassed by the car I was driving (which is a pretty tall order for someone who used to own a Hyundai).

So I went to the car wash, and it was pretty darn uneventful (not sure what kind of excitement I was looking for - maybe a laser show or something) even though I do get a little gidgy about driving in between the little tracks that push your car through the car wash. I always think I'm going to go off the tracks, although I don't know what kind of damage this would cause when I'm driving at about 2 mph.

I wouldn't say the car wash (I got the basic variety - I mean, I'm not going to go totally crazy with this thing) got my car sparkling, but it at least got me down to an acceptable level of dirt and grime that doesn't make me feel like I've just driven Ma and Pa Joad through the Oklahoma dust bowl.

Of course, I'm still parking in the same spot in the driveway, so who knows how long this feeling will last.