Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Everlasting Peace.

The Underling is officially no longer an employee of the City of Boston.

It should be noted that in his final hours in office he was able to successfully engineer a long and everlasting peace between himself and the Coke Machine on the condition that he never attempt to purchase a Coke from the Machine again.

A Not So Tragic Hero

I'm starting to not feel so bad for Piggy any more. Before I thought he was just that poor fat kid who everyone loved to make fun of, now I'm starting to think he brings it upon himself. First he gives up the name he hates most to the first person he sees and expects the kid not tell anyone. How stupid could he be? I myself was prone to the kidding of my peers at a young age and because of that I went to great lengths to avoid giving them anything to poke fun at.

Piggy should have laid back took on a much smaller role and gone about making his ideas known through back channels. You would have thought he would have learned thatby now being a fat four eyes with asthma.

Top Five: The Day of Days

The Underling does not enjoy last days at all. They make him paranoid, antsy, and above they bring about his Catholic Guilt. So in honor of his last day working for the BRA we are proud to bring you the Underlings top five most awkward/memorable last days. Today we will actually go in reverse to build up some excitement and intrigue!

5. Tie between working for my father and Northeastn Intramurals. I am still off an on with both so this doesn't really count but I needed a #5.

European Parliament: Stagiere to Pawel Piskorski:
There was really nothing awkward about this day other than the hug and good bye with Weronika and the obvious absence of my boss. What really hit me about this day was that I was leaving Belgium shortly there after, a place I could have spent the rest of my life and been happy about it. A very emotional day, the most emotional last day I have had, to say the least.

Enos Marine:
My first job ever and coincidentally it was my first last day ever! This last day was awkward because my boss thought that I should work for 2 more weeks and then go to college. I on the other hand thought that I needed two weeks to get my shit together and fully deal with the fact that I was moving on. She thought it was irresponsible, I thought it was normal. Regardless to this day it is difficult to talk to my old boss when I take my father's boat out.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Corporations Division:
I consider this awkward because I avoided saying good bye to every member of the Corporations division (40 people) on my way out. How I did that I have no clue, but it was glorious.

Woodman's of Essex:
This job takes the cake when it comes to awkward memorable last days. All in all it was a few last days wrapped into one because of all the titles I held here. What makes it so memorable is that at Woodman's it is tradition to be thrown into the lobster tank out front on your last day. I was no exception. The entire day I was a nervous wreck waiting to be thrown into the tank (which is something like 40 degrees Fahrenheit) while my co-workers kept snickering at me and making gestures that implied that I would be getting really wet later that evening.

Now I'm a good guy and if I don't say so myself a rather cute one, something that worked in my favor at Woodman's because at least half of the workers are High School girls. And on my last day that worked in my favor. With a few minutes before close a couple of the girls told me to leave and that they would punch me out so I could avoid getting dunked in the tank. I took them up on their offer and was out the door only to realize I forgot my regular shoes, which I had to go back for. That of course was my undoing. I was immediately grabbed and dragged out to the tank, at this point I decided I would not go down without a fight. I kicked my legs and swung my arms breaking someones glasses and knocking someone else to the ground, but to no avail, I went in the tank. I then drove home without any pants on.

My plan of leaving early would not have worked btw because earlier that day the other guys in the kitchen went out and blocked me in with their cars. That would have brought upon a situation where I would have waited out my co-workers until the wee hours of the morning then would have snuck off and called someone to come pick me up. Oh if only that had happened.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From The Archive: The Meeting Take 1

The Underling continues to prepare for his departure from the BRA and because of that he has no time to post. Therefore you lucky few will be entertained by yet another post from the Underlings days working at the EU Parliament. Yes this was previously posted somewhere else and we apologize yet again for the lack of original work up on the blog but we do have in text comments written by the Underling himself (they are key to your expanding knowledge of life). And if you haven't read it before then it is all new! Enjoy!

As always this color delineates a new comment.

Today my MEP was called away to Poland for an urgent reason (The longer my internship went the more I doubted this was a real excuse, but if in fact there was an emergency then I apologize), even though he had an important meeting to attend. So that meant his assistant Weronika (in Polish Ws are Vs) and I got to attend in his stead as well as I was allowed to take notes (sounds like it is a privilege or something). Needless to say I was excited, and no matter what they talked about in this meeting I was going to be hanging on every terribly butchered English word spoken (word to those who try and speak in English when you cannot, just let the translator translate it makes it so much easier for you to prove your point when someone who knows English much better than you is converting said point into English, just give in).

So I walked in and directly to my left there were a pile of sandwiches and an assortment of juices and waters, and yes everyone including interns could take them (oh what a scavenger the Euro turned me into)! So I grabbed a sandwich and a bottle of water and sat down at a chair that had a microphone (like I would have used it, though I had to do everything to restrain myself from turning it on and just making a noise of some kind into it) and translation headset at it and proceeded to pass the time by talking to Weronika about how she got mugged by Gypsies (which marked the second person I knew to ever be mugged and both in the same month) while at the same time a bunch of important looking people in suits filed into the room (no way I was wearing anything near a suit on that day, I doubt I was even wearing a tie but I mean my MEP always wore jeans and a Polo shirt to work, so obviously I couldn't show up my boss by wearing a suit to work I was just doing my duty as an intern).

Suddenly the meeting started and I began to take notes. Immediately the comedy of the EU Parliament started to come pouring out of every possible orifice , one of the MEPs attending made a fool of himself by calling one of his fellow sponsors a member of his own party (the Socialist Party) when in fact he wasn't and guessing by the laughter and disgusted looks his party is no where near the same in ideology. The "forgetful" MEP tried to play it off as a joke, but he failed, miserably.

Now what ensued was pure comedy. The sponsoring MEPs invited a bunch of lobbyists and concerned citizens, announcing that the purpose of the meeting was to "bring government and the people together." Right off the bat you knew that was bullshit because the remaining guests belonged to the EU Commission, the real target. The dialogue went something like this:

MEP: "We would like to thank the EU Commission for coming today to take part in todays session."

EU Commission: "Whatever"

MEP: "We would like to express are gratitude for your service and expertise"

EU Com: "Get to the point before I stop faking like I respect you"

MEP: "But we come here today because we feel that we can improve the Emergency Response Service so that it works flawlessly"

EU Com: "You want my job? You can have it" Flips over the table and storms out of the room.

I can not illustrate enough how little respect the EU Commission has for the Parliament in these meetings. They act like I did my senior year of High School in respect to my parents authority; everything was up for debate including what color the sky was.

It of course was much more cordial and consisted of dialogue loaded with rhetoric, spite and contempt. It was all good fun.

The rest of the meeting was not all that interesting except for the "Forgetful" MEP who kept insulting America and using bad information but I didn't mind because American politicians still call French Fries, Freedom Fries because of the policies of the French government even though French Fries are Belgian. So all ignorance is forgiven.

Every time I re-read this post I kick myself for not making it a running diary, government meetings hold so much unintentional comedy that they all deserve running diaries, something I try and do whenever possible.

Monday, December 29, 2008

From The Archive: The Boss

The Underling is furiously inputting payrolls that he has neglected for the past six months of his internship and because of that he has little time to post (maybe he should have worked more and posted less in the past month or so). In leu of his absence we shall be running a few posts from his EU internship that were originally posted at The Doyle Opinion. We apologize if you have already read this post and you can just disregard it if you didn't like it the first time. But like all the other reposts this one will come with commentary from the Underling himself. Enjoy!

As always this color delineates commentary.

Mr Pawel B. Piskorski is my boss, he hails from Warsaw Poland where he used to be the Mayor. I have met my boss a grand total of four times (I think this was the last time I didn't even get hte obligatory "You did a great job" on my last day), shook his hand three times and my longest conversation happened during this encounter:

I walk into the office
Weronika: Good-morning Kevin, how was your weekend? (picture a heavy Polish accent)
Me: It was fine, how was yours?
Weronika: Good.
And then she jerks her head in the direction of my bosses office. I continue the conversation, a little bit puzzled as to why Weronika had jerked her head, I settle for it being that my boss is in today unlike last week.
I sit down, boot up the computer, the phone rings, Weronika answers, normal morning. Then she hangs up and says in a hushed tone.
Weronika: Um, should probably go in and say hi to the boss.
I say that I will, and as I am getting up and making my 3.5 meter trip to my bosses desk I start to freak out and wonder what the hell did I do? I have a guilty conscious all the time, when ever the situation can remotely call for me to be reprimanded I think the worst and today was no different. I move through the doorway that brings me to the boss’s office thinking that I must have embarrassed Mr. P in some fashion, maybe my hair is to long, who knows.
Me: Good Morning sir.
Looking up with the smile he always seems to have when he speaks with me, which is not a good sample size to judge his mood because I have spoken so few times with the man, for all I know he could be incredibly angry....

This was probably the biggest difficulty I had with living and working in Belgium, I could never read some ones mood. Either their English was just not good enough for them to express themselves or the way they expressed their mood through non-verbal means (facial expressions, or body language) just did not translate. I never knew if Weronika was happy, sad, angry or annoyed, I always had to guess.

Boss: Good Morning, how are you doing?
Me: I’m fine sir, how about yourself?
Waiting for the other shoe to drop.......
Boss: I am well.
And then we had one of those moments where, just like when my mom grabs one of my brothers and makes them talk to me on the phone when they are unprepared, where you have nothing to say and then you suddenly realize it and you have no idea what to do (My dad loves to do that to me and I'm just glad that my brothers feel just as awkward about it and refuse the phone from him). So with that the boss smiled and looked back down at his work, and I kinda just shuffled back to my desk wondering what the hell just happened?

This one interaction with my boss is a microcosm of my internship as a whole. I did very little, was asked to do very little at that, and when I was asked to do something it was awkward, easy and pretty much pointless.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

And We're Back with some Grumblings

Well after an action packed Christmas that made my Christmas post seem almost prophetic I am back to my blogging ways. The events of Christmas do need to be noted in some form but I do not know in what type of medium to bring it to you. All in good time though.

In other news Eric's birthday proved to be uneventful by Eric/Danny standards. Though I did have my first scorpion bowl which proved to be both tasty and dangerous. Because of work today I made an early exit to ensure I would not be hungover while serving the book loving populace.

Speaking of which today I get to work for 4 hours, that is down from 8. I kind of hope that is a mix up and not a permanent thing because if I am working 4 hour shifts once or twice a week that may prove to be a problem. Stay tuned.

I also attended the Nutcracker yesterday with Katy, which involved two bars and roughly 4 beers over a few hour span. Needless to say I enjoyed myself.

Lastly my Co-Op with the BRA will be ending this Wednesday (sad face) which means some awkward good byes and a shift in life priorities which means blogging will either skyrocket or cease because of a workload. I'm hoping for the former.

Normally this is where on most blogs people wish you a happy New Year and say that they have a whole bunch of fun things planned for their readers in 2009 (weird to think this decade is almost over already). Well I have nothing planned for you, I'm sorry. You will just have to trust that I will come up with things on the fly or make the old things that much more enjoyable to keep pace. Regardless I hope you continue to come back in 2009, I will still be here, I hope.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

From The Archive: Happy Families are all Alike

The holidays are all about family, undoubtedly because of all the time spent amongst them. Families come from all over the country to see each other, eat food, give thanks, exchange gifts and inevitably bicker. some Uncle says something to some cousin who cries about it to their mom who happens to be the sister in law of said uncle. Things always get messy and that's why they only do it a couple times a year. The following poem, written in High School is a tribute to dysfunctional families and how they are in fact functional in a way "happy families" never could be. Anyway here is the poem, I have no clue as to what I wrote it for, the former title of the file gave me no clues. All we have is the result. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

Happy families are all alike;
Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
But are the happy families truly happy?
They put on smiles, and sing and dance;
Making it seem that way.
But no quarrels or qualms they grow tired.
They begin to ask, “What is wrong?”
They start to second guess the love their family,
And wonder if it all just an act.
Is it a fake love or is it true love,
One can not love when smiles are all that can be found.
Because arguments have to happen,
Or something must be wrong.
That is why happy families are all alike.
They all do not know what makes them so “happy.”
Now an unhappy family is not unhappy all the time.
When they are happy they know it.
They take that moment, however small,
And cherish it until the next happy moment comes.
Happy moments they notice, unlike their “happy” counterparts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nothing New

Sorry, but there will be nothing new here today, the Underling is preparing for Christmas at home and finishing up his Co-Op so he will have little time to post over the next couple days. There will be a post tomorrow that I have scheduled. It's an archive post so there was little work on my part. Saturday I will be attending a party for a Mr. Eric Zetterval on Saturday evening which will be taking place at every bar in the downtown area. I am with out a doubt certain there will be things to talk about. Also next Wednesday will be my last day at the BRA so there will be some posts along that line.

Until then I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Office Appliances

I'm about ready to go Michael Bolton on about 10 different pieces of Office Equipment right now.

Why is it that all Office Equipment (at least all Office Equipment I have ever worked with) either is incredibly outdated (my computer), makes a high pitched screech (the copier) or simply refuses to work the way it is supposed to (no specific example because everything here malfunctions). I mean really I should have two screens, a faster processor and 1 GB of ram on this thing and my job would be far easier, cheaper and propably eliminate another employee. It's infuraiating.

The real source of my anger is the copier which occasionally makes this really high pitched sound that would drive a dog insane. The first time it took me 20 minutes to locate it and then shut down the machine. Now I only have to get up and shut the machine off everytime it happens because I know who the culprit is. But still I want to bring a baseball bat in to work.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I was debating putting this on Twitter but then my Twitter went down.

I successfully got around having the "You did a fine job, and we will miss you" conversation with my boss's boss (Trish's boss Christine) today by leaving the meeting immediately and hiding in the men's room for about 10 minutes.

I'm dreading my final day and I am dreading having to fill out my evaluation with Trish and any other surprises that come my way. I should just call in sick on my last day. Then again that would be an awkward phone call.

More on this later.

Zippity doo da, Zippity day

My oh my what a wonderful day.

Well today I officially got myself a Zip Car membership. Which means I no longer need to borrow a car from my parents (independence inches even closer!) or get a cab when I want to buy something that can not be carried home on the T (The T doesn't go all the way to BJ's). All that for $50 a year plus $10 an hour or less to use the car. Much cheaper than the $2000 my dad pays for my insurance not to mention the cost of buying the car, of housing the car, maintenance, and gas (included in Zip car price). It's so much more economical for a person living in the city in their twenties.

Now let's hope I don't get into an accident.....

From The Archive: The Christmas Impostor

Back in High School I was on the school newspaper called The Gillnetter. Yes I was a blowhard early on in life as well. While most of my articles were difficult to sift through and find any type of coherent meaning some were slightly comprehendible to the audience it was meant for. The following article I wrote for the Christmas issue and I suppose still has relevance today and I figured instead of lashing out at corporate America again I would just give you a piece I have written before. I guess I didn't need to post this then. Here you have it, a High School version of what I posted yesterday, from the archives: The Christmas Impostor.

(As before anything in this color delineates a note from my present self)

Where is my Christmas? (The nerve of that young man)  What has corporate America done with it? Who is this gift bearing impostor? This is no Saint Nick I see, this is some fat man hired by big business to take my money! (Oh how little you knew!)
Money, Money, Money! That is all the corporate giants see when they find Christmas on the calendar. And all they think about is how best to make more money than the previous year. That would explain why it appears that Christmas comes earlier every year (I'm going to start keeping track of that next year, maybe it will be a new feature "When _______ started this year!).
That thought occurs to me once every year, you know the thought, it usually happens when you walk into CVS (Or Borders) in mid November and see Christmas decorations throughout the store (Pre-Thanksgiving this year). You just stand there in awe and, if you are anything like me, use an explicative or two to show your bewilderment (Such a bad ass this kid is, someone should let him know). Some of us, alright maybe just me, go up to the manager and ask them if they have gotten their dates or holidays mixed up in some way because it is clearly not even Thanksgiving yet. The manager generally replies that its corporate policy and he, or she, knows nothing more. (Those last two sentences were bold faced lies, there is no way, I mean it was impossible that at that point in my life I would walk up to a stranger, let alone a stranger with authority and say something like that. LIAR!)
That answer leaves me wondering, are we all OK with this impostor Christmas that has been installed by corporate America or is it that we are all just oblivious to it? Are we content with a Christmas that mandates lavish gifts for all and decorations and the festivities to be up and running by mid-October? Or do we all just not realize that the true meaning of Christmas has been masked by a scheme from the Fortune 500? (I don't think I knew what the Fortune 500 was at this point)
By no means am I trying to be Ebenezer Scrooge (Yes you are), I mean I do enjoy the holiday. Sorry to disappoint but I actually do like Christmas time (Really, because I could have swore that you were just ripping it for the past few minutes). I’m not the complete anti-society child you take me for (Wrong, I am such a shut in). It is just I do not think we should start the Christmas festivities so early. Allowing corporate America to take Christmas and stretch it over a three-month span takes away from the true meaning and feeling of Christmas. What ever happened to the twelve days of Christmas? Why can’t we put up a real tree a few days before Christmas (Now that is something I can get behind) and take it down a week or so after? Why does it have to be up right after Thanksgiving and down the day of Christmas? That’s not Christmas spirit that’s just going through the motions, showing to the world that you can go out and buy the gifts and put on a good show. Anyone can buy a gift and put up a tree, but it takes a real human to actually have some feeling behind it.
So this year go out and buy a real tree and buy some slightly cheaper gifts that will actually mean something to the recipient, and please don’t just go through the motions.
A Merry Christmas to All!

That's a whole lot of Christmas ranting for someone who is not all that religious. I was such a liar back then, and a bad one at that.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Christmas Season

I don't think I truly understood how big of a deal Christmas is in the retail industry. I mean I knew that it is the biggest shopping time of the year but I didn't know that Christmas is the be all end all for retail stores, if you have a bad Christmas season then it goes without saying that you will have a bad year.

As you all know I work at Borders, the one at the Cambridge Side Galleria, so yes once a week I go to a mall. In this realm I am my fathers son, I despise malls, there is just too many people "shopping". When I go to a mall I am going to buy a specific item, not to look around and leave without buying what I came for. The environment is too sterile and preconceived for me to enjoy being there, it's corporate and I really don't like corporate things.

But alas one must make a living, or try to, so I work where I get the most benefit. Borders being a bookstore and I primarily only buying books when I buy things it was the place for me. Which in the end makes me feel better about trying to sell items to people. Where I work they are buying items that expand knowledge, provide entertainment and enjoyment. It's not a nick-knack, or a gimmicky piece of electronic equipment.

Yet still in the current economy I feel like it is wrong to try and push more expensive items on people who can not afford it and probably should do without for the time being. I know our store isn't making plan each week and I know that has resulted in hours being cut and pressure being put on the staff to sell more items. My own job is at stake but yet I would feel bad pressuring other people in order to guarantee my own job.

That's why I'm not meant for retail.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In Defense of Jupiler

If you are looking for some weird defense of the planet Jupiter then I am afraid you have misspelled the great giant's name.

As for Jupiler, the beer of Belgium, I have been prompted to come to it's defense because of some heat I took after I posted my Top Five Belgian Beers. People were appalled that I would even think of placing such a mediocre to cheap beet on my list. 

Well Jupiler holds a special place in my heart, besides having a great name when pronounced by native Belgian's, it is also obviously the BudLight/CoorsLight/MillerLite/PBR/Keystone/Natty/Busch of Belgium. It was in fact presented to me in that fashion while taking a train from Leuven to Bruges. I was presented my first Jupiler by a group of college students, at 10 AM, on a train, from a backpack. It wasn't Stella, or Duvel or a Trapist it was the crap beer of Belgium.

Now in making my list I kind of compared my Belgian favorites with my domestics in a way:

Stella = Miller High Life a top of the line mass produced American Beer (Doesn't mean its high quality)

Lambic = A hard cider of some kind

Maes = Another shit beer PBR in my mind because PBR on tap has this weird flavor on tap just like Maes does (hence why people think throw up)

Delirium Tremens = A Harpoon or Sam Adams, just higher quality of beer

Hence why Jupiler is the Bud Light (I don't like Bud Light or really any shit beer besides PBR but if Jupiler was brought to America it would become my can/party beer of choice.

It was a sentimental pick and nothing more.

Photo provided by Katy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thank you for the phone call Northeastern...

but I haven't had a final at NU in over a year now. But yes I will be sure to check MyNeu (that's another post onto itself) to make sure my non-existent finals are still where they were scheduled to be; my couch. Glad to see my $40,000 a year is wasted so well.

Top Five: Belgian Beers

The first top five was a great success. Well we hope it was because in actuality I have no idea how many of you liked it. Regardless because of it's possible success, my day off and the fact that Katy finally found a picture of my favorite Belgian beer we now have a new Top Five (I'm thinking this will become weekly, biweekly, or monthly)! Today's is Top Five Belgian Beers!

Because I am obviously the go to authority for everything Belgian I thought I would bring you my top five beers which are obviously the undisputed top five Belgian beers there are.

1. Maes also known as Campus (pictured above)

- Some may think it tastes like throw up but I disagree, and it is the beer of choice at De Girafe, my favorite Leuven bar!

2. Lambic Geuze

- I know what you are thinking, only a real man drinks Lambic, well you are absolutely correct in that assumption. Though this Lambic is like no other, it tastes like iced tea and not anything like an alcoholic beverage (no it wasn't actual iced tea, though I can not prove it). And it is brewed and served exclusively at B├ęcasse in Brussels.

3. Stella Artois

- The juggernaut and the only Belgian beer I knew before I went there. I love it. If not only for the fact that in the States its a fancy beer in a green bottle with a white paper top and in Belgium it is considered quite literally to be a "shit beer" or "Pintjes"

4. Jupiler

- I first came in to contact with Jupiler at about 10 AM on a train ride to Bruges. I was offered a seat by a few French Belgians who went on to preach of how "Jupiler" (A heavy accent on the end of the word I was told juPILER!) was in fact the best beer in the world. They offered me one out of their backpack and then another one when they disembarked from the train. It must be noted that Jupiler is cheaper than Stella and can be purchased in cans out of vending machines throughout Belgium. Delicious, yes. "Best beer in the world?" I think not.

5. Delirium Tremens

- This is a place holder until I can determine what other beer I enjoyed should go here. But it is a worthy place holder with a 9% alcohol tag and what my Taxi driver from the airport says were "Pink elephants on the glasses that when they start dancing you know you have had too many?"

As always you are encouraged to submit your own top 5.

Beers that will never appear on this list

-Hoegaarden (Who-garden)

Of Snow Days, Mayor Menino and Non-Essential Employees

As you may already be aware, from the nonstop media coverage, there is to be a lot of snow upon the ground on this fine 19th day of the 12th month in the 2008 year of our Lord Jesus Christ (what?). And because of this fine weather development, Mayor Thomas Menino has granted the Underling, because of his fine work, a much needed day off. It is of course unfortunate that every other non-essential employee was also given the day off because of the impending storm, it seems as if I can never enjoy things by myself.

Because of said storm, there was much rejoicing. Also there was breakfast at Charlie's! I had rasberry pancakes (3) with a side of toast and a chocolate milk. Katy had ONE pancake and a side breakfast potatoes. This is what it looked like when the meal was finished.

Keep in mind who had what and what is finished on the table and what is not. I say no more.

I would like to thank Mayor Menino for the delicious breakfast that I was able to have today. Though it would have been that much better if he picked up the tab, but I understand.

Since Mother Nature has blessed me with a day off today expect a few posts today. Possibly a top five will be in the mix! Be prepared!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Know I don't Speak Spanish

But I wish I did. Knowing it would have been pretty handy in knowing how to say "What city are you from?" "What is your ethnicity?" "Are you a U.S. citizen?" and "Is this your name?" today. Why was I asking such personal questions today? Well dear reader, The Underling was required to move amongst the working people today at Parcel 18 (the new NU dorm project).

We interrupt this post for an important side note!

Because I was moving floor to floor today I got to take a look at the new digs for the incoming Freshman, which were; a decent size single room with a private bath, a sizable closet and sink outside the shower/toilet area. I thought Freshman were supposed to be tortured their first year to then appreciate the quality of life from there on out, I know I was. Then again $5,000 a semester for those rooms might just be worse than torture.

Back our regularly scheduled program!

I was also forced to take the talking elevator (announces each floor) which was operated by an elevator operator who had decorated his tiny workspace with christmas lights and decorations.

I just spilled hot apple cider all over myself and the couch (the couch's first spill mind you) which means I will be finishing this post without any pants on. Just thought you should be aware that the first half of this post was written by a fully clothed Underling, the second half a pantless one. You decide which Underling you like better.

After this festive elevator ride came the point where I wish I knew Spanish. I was to determine where a group of floorers were from, and with the names "Mendozza, Romero, and Santos" I was convinced they were probably Latino and not Caucasian like their payroll department keeps telling me they are. I, of course was right, they were not white. Of course I could not verbally confirm this because none of them spoke English. That and their foreman was a Polish man who did not speak Spanish and only a heavily accented version of English (how they got work done is beyond me).

How would have me knowing Spanish helped me you ask? It wouldn't have, it would have been cool though. All I really needed to know was that these guys were Latino and that is fairly easy to determine when they all are a different shade than white and only speak Spanish (go instincts!).

Regardless of the usefulness of Spanish in todays situation I wish I had known it just to make sure they were not saying rude things about me. I mean I work for the government, so they probably don't like me much especially when I don't know Spanish, pull them off their work site, and bring into question their legal status. I know I would hate me.

From The Archives: Alfred (My Ode To Orwell)

This next piece is a total rip off of George Orwell's 1984, I must have just read it. Throughout my life I have had a tendency to copy things, be it writing style, story lines, personality traits or dance moves (which I do poorly mind you). This piece is most likely not an exception to that rule, though likable and well written (at least in my opinion at least). I present this one to you with out any in text notes because it is a story, I think any that is fictional from here on out I will try to leave untouched (to your eyes at least, I may change some words around here and there to make it flow better). Non-fiction pieces on the other hand will make up for the lack of notes.

So here you have it, my ode to (or straight up rip off of) George Orwell: Alfred (I have no idea why I called it "Alfred")

Buzzer goes off. Six o’clock says the time keeper. Time to wake up and smell the coffee; but remember as bad as it smells the taste is worse. The buzzer goes off again. Alfred can now smell the God awful coffee that is rationed out to everyone. He rolls out of bed and makes his way to the bathroom.
Alfred pries open the rusty medicine cabinet and grabs for the bottle of green pills. He opens them as he does every morning, but he does something he has never done before, he pauses.
“Why do I take them?”
“Because they are good for you.”
“But they hurt my head.”
“That is because you do not take enough.”
The logic of this unknown voice confuses Alfred. He stands there for a moment longer, but the smell of burning coffee brings him back, he puts the bottle of green pills back in the cabinet.
Alfred steps out on the street, straightens his tie, licks his lips and makes his way to the subway station. Alfred heads below ground accompanied by the same nameless faces as countless days past.
Waiting for the train to arrive Alfred poses the question again, “Why do I take them?” There is no voice to answer his question this time, so he is forced to ponder the question on his own.
The train interrupts his thinking, he boards the train, looks around for a seat, like usual there is none to be found. The lack of seating did not bother Alfred, for Alfred was thinking. Alfred thinks about a lot of things; about the green pills, why the sky is blue, and why the voice was not responding.
Yet again the train stops his thoughts. He disembarks the train and shuffles out of the station. He is met with an overcast day and a crowded street. “Bah,” he says to himself, yet no voice is there to scold him. Something was different, but Alfred could not put his finger on it.
Alfred arrived at his building, and stood in the long line that led to the security checkpoint. “Damn government, can they not keep out of my life,” thought Alfred. Now that one would bring out the voice in his head for sure, maybe even a shock. Again nothing happened. Alfred started to worry that he might be in trouble. Though he did like his new ability to think freely. It is his turn to go through the security checkpoint.
A buzzer goes off, but this time it is not the time keeper. The world goes dark. Alfred will not be rising at six tomorrow.

A bit dark isn't it? I wonder what possessed me to write that. Now that I think of it I believe I saw the movie Equilibrium for the first time around the time I wrote this. Could be why I wrote it. Either way I ripped it off of something.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inside Voices

I now know why the Northeastern Co-Op gets this specific cubicle, the Engineers love to hold loud impromptu meetings right next to it. It would be one thing if the person I am talking to on the phone shouted their half of the conversation, but since her employees follow the "Inside Voices Directive" handed down by their respective Kindergarten teachers she does not see a reason to violate the rule herself.

Grumbling Along.....

As many of you have undoubtedly realized I have gone on something of a posting binge since I remembered I had a blog a couple weeks ago (I'm sorry, I give you permission to hit the mark all as read button up at the top of your RSS reader) but within that binge (can I say that?) I have seriously neglected to include any real grumbling about being an underling. I say to you, No More (Said like the actress in the Count of Monte Christo)! Here are some grumblings, from me, The Underling.

Grumbling #1
You know what really gets my goat (I have always wanted to use that phrase in context, I have others as well so watch out!)? People who do not replace the water in the water cooler. But you know what I enjoy doing more than most any other mundane, not fun, slightly irritating thing in an office environment? No it's not talk to my coworkers about politics, it's changing the water for the water cooler!

So I have a sort of dilemma, on one hand I want to chop the hands off of those who do not replace the empty water jug, and on the other hand I love replacing the empty water jug (for the sole purpose that that means that something has been deminished and completed, I don't know what it is but I love that feeling). So far I have been just enjoying the replacing because the other option is slightly bloody and may get me fired, which means I would really be in trouble with Kari (not to mention I think Sallie May may [Ha!] call in my loans and I don't have $60,000 at the moment despite my success) and I don't want that. Suggestions?

I walked into the break room today to clean out my Tupperware from lunch (I just have to cut back on those high profile luncheons, it's the economy, even us Underlings have been effected) and as I passed by the sink to the trash I realized that we have a garbage disposal! Why was I not alerted to this? Why did it take me 5 1/2 months to discover this? Do you understand how I would not have had to bring home dirty tupperware every day? Just because I am an intern doesn't mean I need not be included in such developments as a garbage disposal! That goes for the expansive supply closet I didn't know we had. I need to leave a long list of things for the incoming intern including garabage disposal, supply closet, Bill, the Coke Machine, and the ability to take Agency cars.

From The Archives: The Algerian

Today we bring you an updated and footnoted version of "The Algerian" which was posted at my old blog last spring. This will not be like past posts were I give you an unedited, verbatim copy with my comments on it. This one I have updated and rewritten for quality and factual purposes. Enjoy.

The Algerian: Remix

Imagine a big black rapper shouting Remix right as you start reading this.




In Leuven, there is this bar called De Giraffe (made my top slot for Leuven Bars in fact), which I frequented often for it's Balkan Beats and "interesting" clientele. On one specific night I think I became, or at least came into conversation with said clientele.

On the aforementioned evening; Daniel, Nick, Katy decided to head over to De Giraffe for the laid back atmosphere and of course they have Maes on tap.

We're on the second round when this little Algerian (it should be noted that I deemed him Algerian, he probably isn't Algerian but for this story it has to work) man comes over and starts talking to Daniel. At the time the man was speaking with such poor English and in such a hushed tone that I could not understand a word that was being said, but I could tell by Daniel's facial expressions that it wasn't positive. Afterwords Daniel would explain that the man impressed upon him that he should not "look at people like that, you don't look at people like that." Daniel not understanding what is going on gives an awkward laugh and apologizes, normal policy for fucked up foreigners who are looking for trouble. Instead of pushing the case further, or even just walking away the Algerian hands Daniel a clove of garlic, stares at him and then walks away. I mean what the fuck? Garlic?

The Algerian disappears to the back of the bar for a few minutes, then reappears and starts to make his way for the door, which in turn means passing us again, when he does about €200 falls out of his pocket. He takes two more steps and proceeds to drop €300 more

I'm a nice guy (at least I like to think I am). Being a nice guy means you help people, in this case I decided within seconds that I was going to let this man know that he just dropped a serious amount of money on the floor. In retrospect I probably should have done what the rest of the patrons at the bar did, stare at the guy and then the cash at the floor and decide he probably isn't a guy whose money you touch.

I tap the man on the shoulder and tell him that he just dropped half a grand in euro on the floor. He proceeds to clumsily bend over and "attempt" to pick it up. I say "attempt" because he was far to inebriated to organize his money into a stack and pick it up. So in my infinite wisdom, I decide to kneel down and help him pick up the money, which I do and I hand it to one of his friends who is leaning over me, big mistake. After about twenty seconds or so when we have both stood up and the money is back where it belongs the Algerian man looks at me and sticks his hand out and demands that I give him his money. I say in English that I gave his friend the money. He of course does not believe me and continues to stare at me with his hand out, while I proceed to say in every way possible that I do not have his money.

At this point his friends make themselves apparent and hustle him out of the bar while he continues to glare at me. Daniel now tells us of his encounter with the man earlier, which makes me feel so much better (not). We order another round to make sure the Algerian and his posse have cleared out of the area, and to calm my nerves a bit. I would say it took me 20 seconds to finish that beer.

Next think I know the Algerian man is in my face again, but this time his Arab friend in English says:

"Did you take his money"

I reply that I did not take his money, this includes me turning out all my pockets to show that I did not in fact pocket any of the money on the floor.

At which point the Algerian cuts me off and puts himself between me and the Arab and begins to wag a finger and stammer away in an unknown language. I say that because between the four of us we know Italian, Arabic, French and Spanish and none of us knew what he was saying, and there was no way it was Dutch. I am again turning out my pockets telling this man that I did not steal his money and that I would never steal his money. To which he replies in slow, broken, and drunken English.

"That I drug money, you don't want drug money."

Let's just say that made a lot of things including the clientele of the bar make a lot more sense.

Enter the Algerians white buddies who start talking about how they had to leave the bar and it was "either the money or the Marijuana," the whole time glaring at me.

I later learned that at this point Nick and Daniel were dead set on brawling, and were planning there means of attack in secret just in case the Algerian or the Arab laid a finger on me. As noble and as happy as that made me feel I have a feeling the police would not have been able to get there fast enough to save us from being knifed to death.

As the two of them are scheming over in the corner, I'm continuing to try to procure a large some of drug money from any orifice of my body. At which point I happen to glance over to the Arab man who i return gives me the international signal for "My friend is really fucked up right now so don't worry we don't want to rumble" which made me feel only a little better because this guy also had the Michael Corleone look of "Don't worry Fredo no matter what you do to me you are family" and we all know what happened to Fredo.

As I am turning back towards the Algerian to tell him for the 49,534,875 time that I did not take his money, he grabs for my hand and believe me when I say that that small moment held so much tension. I felt like the Commander of the Dallas in the Hunt for Red October just waiting for Sean Connery to open his torpedo tube doors (might have been a stretch on the analogy but let's just roll with that one), but it never happened. He told me that I shouldn't worry about it and that he had respect for me. He then proceeded to shake my hand, kiss Katy's hand and then took his leave.

It goes without saying that I needed a few more beers to stop shaking and looking over my shoulder for the rest of the evening.

Well that night I did have some more beers and when I got back to my room I thought it would be a good idea to call my mother and tell her that I got into an altercation with a drug dealer. Word from the wise, when you think you might get stabbed by a Drug Dealer do not drunk dial your mom 3,500 miles away and tell her. Moms don't like that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From The Archives: ?

This is some kind of poem that I had to write in my Writing For Publication class in High School. I think it has to do with writing down a series of events that pertain to a keyword and then cutting up all the lines and then placing them into specific places. Pretty cool, but weird. I pass it on to you unedited.

Scary driving, high speed,
Ten seconds sweating.
Bracing of the body,
Breakdown the aftermath.

That smell,
I can’t have it!
Clean white, pure white.
Shocks back expected behavior.

Tune out parents fighting.
Stomping feet,
Slamming doors, convey the sentiment.

That button, let’s push it!
Pop back, let’s investigate!
Cylinder, not button.
It burns!

Red, blue, black, yellow.
Slight click, scratchy touch, smooth sides.

Old young and middle aged.
Devoted fans,
Drunk fans,
Lucky fans.
The best one to see.

Top Five: Bars of Leuven

The Underling feels nostalgic for the days of yore, so today he gives you his first top five post (New Feature)! David Letterman does the top 10, The Underling likes to be more specific. If you have ever or will ever spend time in Leuven, Belgium, then heed the following top 5. If you do not plan on visiting Leuven, something The Underling considers to be a crime upon humanity, then just act like you know what I'm talking about.

For this top 5 I give no explanations as to why I like them (unless so posted), but of course the list is open for debate. And please feel free to make your own list and put it in the comments section (I am staring at you Daniel).

Top 5 Leuven Bars (In my humble opinion)

1. De Girafe (Balkan Beats and Drug Dealers)
2. Revue (Old Timers)
3. Cafe Alle (Meters)
4. De Blokhut (Pool Room)
5. Politika (€1 Stella)

Missed the Cut

Train Station Bar
Underground Bar below De Kauf (Forgot the name)

Note: If the Underling ever makes it back to Leuven he will take many pictures of the aforementioned bars and will post them along with many many words.

As always the above picture is provided by Ms. Katy Kobzeff

Sugar Plum Fairy, Sugar Plum Fairy

Picture by Katy Kobzeff

Out the door
Grab the paper
Down the steps
Turn right up the street
Massachusetts Avenue
Turn right
Remove newspaper from bag
Throw away bag
Avoid Berkee students
Pause at intersection
Watch Traffic
Jog across street
Cop with a machine gun
Enter station
"Do you have any change?"
Head down
Down flight of stairs.
Remove wallet
Through gate
Down a flight
Down two flights
Walk 10 paces
"Sally was a 15 year old girl from Nebraska!"
Open newspaper
Battle Unfolds in a Poor Land For the Riches Beneath the Soil
Board train
Walk to the back
Sit on steps
"Next Stop Copley"
Wet floor
"Entering Copley"
The Railroad Disability Board That Couldn't Say No
"Copley, the destination of this train is, Government Center"
Long Island Rail Road
Check watch
"Entering Arlington"
President Dodges Shoes in Iraq
Blury passengers
"Boylston, the destination of this train is, Government Center"
Wrestle newspaper
A Buddy Ballot System
Doors open
Stand up
Disembark train
"Park Street, the destina.........."
Walk up platform
Train arriving
Hustle down stairs
Disregard every other step
Jog to second car
Enter first door
Walk to back of car
Do Not Lean Against Door
Lean against door
Think better of it
Lean against other door
"Downtown Crossing, the destination of this train is, Braintree"
Sounds like Godfrey
Exit car
Move to third car
Cut a lady off
Enter car
Find seat
"Officer gets me naturalized!"
The 17th Floor, Where Wealth Went to Vanish in a Manhattan Tower
$50 billion
New York Mets
Florida Retirees
"Entering South Station"
Stand up
Move to first door
Exit train
Up escalator
Walk up left side
Board bus
Singles seats full
Sit down
"Not A Crime!"
As the Economy Falters, Obama's Goodwill Grows
Don't hit the man in front of you with the paper
7 of 10 Americans support Obama
Knee is uncomfortable
"Courthouse Station"
Need to buy lunch today
"World Trade Center Station"
William Kristol
Check watch
9:52 AM
" wedding was about to start!"
"Silver Line Way"
Wrestle newspaper
Girl has three bags
"Please be considerate and yield seats to elderly and disabled"
I like UFO
"Stop requested"
Check belongings
Stand up
"Tide Street"
Walk to door
Check watch
9:59 AM
Walk across grass
Open door
Remove Wallet
Replace Wallet
Climb 2 flights of stairs
Every time
Remove Wallet
Replace Wallet
Enter office.

That's my commute.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Who Drinks Bud Light?

Apparently alot of people who frequent Choice Mart do. I Saw this (below) on my way to work this morning and was amazed at how much they get for each shipment, and those shipments are weekly.  If this doesn't say college town I don't know what does. And unguarded?

Must be their snazzy new sign, or maybe their snazzy new sign is courtesy of all those people who drink Bud Light.

Lord of the Flies: Piggy

Piggy from Lord of the Flies, is fat, asthmatic, practically blind, and too trusting. He seems to be the only one on the island who has these characteristics. 

My question is if this story was set in today's world how many kids on that island would be obese, asthmatic and socially beaten down? 10%, 25%, half? I'm leaning towards the half.

Some Thanks

I would like to thank McKenna for linking me in her guest blog post about the Vampire Weekend show that she and I happened to both attend. My original post can be found here.

McKenna should start posting again in January at her on blog, mckBLOG.

And yes I posted alot today even though I did not have the ability to do so for half the day. How? I have my ways.

This is Kevin on Anger

This is what Kevin looks like after he has carried his skates all around Boston only to find a half mile long line (I exaggerate) to get into the Frog Pond. This is a level below Hulk.

Katy is happy. I don't know why. There is nothing to be happy about at this point.

Moral of the story: Kevin must be given "Cut in Line Privelages" in the name of public saftey.

From The Archives: A Letter to Gary Bettman from the Canadian People

So you know how something like an hour ago I posted a poem about hockey and the lock out? And how I said if I found any more poems about hockey I would send them your way? Well yes, I found one, one in which I am Ghost writing as the Canadian people (I always wanted to be the Canadian) who are putting the hurt to Mr. Gary Bettman (nice guy). Sadly since I posted this if Gary Bettman is ever found entombed in a sheet of ice I may be suspected of having the keys to the Zamboni. Here you are poetry piece #2!

Letter to Gary Bettman from the Canadian People

Your most honorable fool: We the Canadian people
would like to know what it is you want
with our great game we call hockey.
At first you took our teams
from Quebec and Winnipeg,
but now you have taken your purge one step further.
You have destroyed our game.
Not by taking our game from every Canadian city,
but by taking it from all of North America.
You have forced our players to all corners of the globe.
Yet you laugh, you smile, like the fool you are.
You make your claims, you make your assertions,
but you know nothing of our game.
You are a businessman, not a hockey player,
and even at that you are not good.
We wish you no ill,
We are of course a peaceful people
But as for your job
we care not to let you have it.
So pack up your things,
turn in your keys,
because if it were not for you,
we would have some hockey.

Going to be found in poetry classes for years to come.

Sad Day

I recently downgraded my NYTimes Subscription to Mon - Fri from 7 days a week because the cost was less than half. I did so with reluctance because I know for the Newspaper Industry to survive they need time and money to complete the transition to the Internet. But the poor economy is making the waiting period appear to be too long with every passing day. They are lucky I didn't cancel it completely, it's easier to read all the major papers on a laptop for free.

From The Archives: Hockey Has Gone Away

I was going through things I wrote while taking a class called Writing for Publication taught by one of my favorite teachers Dr. Konaxis (she has since been let go from her post because of certain sexual advances and relationships she had with former students, I was not one of them). Anyway as I was going through these pieces (of which many will be undoubtedly posted here) I found this little tidbit I wrote during the NHL lockout a few years ago. I am awful at poetry, a subject that has always and will continue to perplex me, so do forgive me for the quality and instead pay attention to the raw emotion that resonates within the piece, the hatred, the sadness, the longing and of course like and badly written poem, the bullshit. Here you are the poem that Gary Bettman has suppressed for years: Hockey Has Gone Away.

Oh, hockey, where did you go?
Why are you on the lamb?
Oh, hockey, how I love you so!

Was it because your popularity is low?
Or was it Gary Bettman?
Oh, hockey, where did you go?

I have not once seen Jumbo Joe,
Barreling down the ice like a big old Ram.
Oh, hockey, how I love you so!

All the players and the owners say “No!”
For the truly do not give a damn.
Oh, hockey, where did you go?

I have not once heard “Go Bruins, Go!”
But a fan still I am.
Oh, hockey, how I love you so!

I just want the NHL to know
That I do give a damn!
Oh, hockey, where did you go?
Oh, hockey, how I love you so!

Not to bad eh? I must have been truly depressed if the lockout moved me to start writing poetry....... I date myself with the Jumbo Joe reference me thinks, the beta version of what was to become Milan Lucic. Regardless if I come across anymore hockey inspired poetry, I promise to post it here, for you the reader! Until then you shall have to make do with this timeless piece.

Oh and I attached a picture of Bobby Orr for no other reason than that he is the best defenseman who ever played the game.

No Excuses!

You no longer have any excuses to miss a single post if you don't look at Facebook every day, have an RSS feeder, check Twitter or don't want to manually check everyday! Now you can have it emailed to you! Just type your email address in the box in the corner that says "Enter Your Email Address" and hit "Subscribe" and every email will be sent to your mailbox! It's that simple! And this exclamation point is the last one!

Irony: Anyone who saw this most likely used an RSS feeder or saw it on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Quick Book Note

In true Kevin fashion I have decided to read two books at once now. Translation: John Lennon - The Life is too daunting and heavy to take with me on the T so it has been relegated to bedside reading. Who has answered the call? One of my favorite books; Lord of the Flies.

Quick Tangent: This Lord of the flies cover (picture below) is the coolest one I have ever seen. Here is the thing, I love neat and well designed book covers. Katy has this copy of To Kill A Mockingbird that I love (mostly because every other design cover is hideous for that book and should be discarded for the one Katy owns) and wish I had bought myself when I could have. What this means is that I love book covers and am always looking for the coolest version of my favorite books.

So what am I going to do? Lennon is for the house, LOTF is for the T. When either is finished you will get my opinion. I love LOTF so the post should be good, and there may be some before I finish the book.

Underling Squared!

So I work at Borders, something I have mentioned a few times now and I promised a post this Sunday for you. Well it's Sunday and I should be at work right now so here is your post about Borders.

Borders is one of two very large national booksellers (not bookstore) the other being Barnes & Noble, they are not the same company. Just because they both sell books and they both start with a "B" unfortunately does not mean that they are the same company, much to the agitation of many a customer.

Just so you all know I do not want to shove a Borders Rewards Card down your throat as much as you do not want one but Borders made me do it. Though if you don't want to be bugged about it anymore, there is a simple remedy; just get one, put a fake email on it and hand it to us each time, I swear I will leave you alone. That and I won't get bugged about lagging numbers from my boss every week. You would think we were selling Borders Rewards cards and not books.

Honestly does it benefit a company enough to continually shove something they don't want in their face? If someone does not want a free card that sends you coupons in your email and nothing else the first 2 times you ask (the second time just in case they heard you wrong the first time) then I think it is reasonable to believe that they will never want one and you should not ask. Also does it make sense in this world of corporate speak and rewards cards to even go for a program like that any more? Why not just become the company that doesn't bother you and is only there to assist and find the book that screams "You!" Then again I have never before worked in retail so I couldn't tell you what works but I just find something wrong about pushing things on people who do not want them.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

From The Archives: Haircut (Belgian Style)

The proud follks (or folk, I don't even know if you can say "folk" in that sense) here at Grumbling (I have been debating making it Grumblings but that requires a new blog, and I am not that motivated) are proud to bring you more brackets (). Well sort of. We are in fact proud to bring you old posts, short stories, poems, and newspaper articles that our chief blogger (and only blogger for that matter) wrote some time ago. Each new/old entry will come with a new intro, such as this one, and the old post itself littered with new thoughts by the author, the Underling himself. Attached at right (may actually be above) is a picture of the shaggy Underling while in Belgium desperatly in need of a haircut, a state he finds himself in currently (but sadly in Boston [which is nice] and not Belgium) So here you are, Grumbling Proudly presents, straight From The Archives:


(Anything in this color delineates a new thought)

As many of you know (all three of you [Still true] ) my hair has been cut by the same man since as far back as I can remember and only once have I strayed and that was because Tony was on vacation for two weeks and there was no way I was not going to get a haircut. Well now I'm in Belgium for four months and I have not had a haircut since mid-December and my hair is long.

With that in mind Nikolai and I decided to go in search of a place to get ze hairs cut. Within minutes we had located two candidates, one that looked chic and slightly inviting while the other reminded me of "Coiffures by Anthony" place located next to my dad's office (for those of you who were unable to get it the first time because I figured you could read my mind that means it looked like 80 year olds, and only 80 year olds, frequented the place). We went with the first one.

Never been to a hair salon, so immediately upon entering, it was a completely new experience. Partly because of this and partly because I lack the testicular fortitude, I made Nikolai (I must have thought it was funny to make Nicks name sound Russian or something, aparently I did not realize just yet that I am not funny) go first. His haircut went fairly quickly and looked like what he was shooting for, so in my screwed up brain that meant my haircut was going to go horribly wrong. (Little known fact, Kevin lives by Murphy's Law)

First off I get the hair washing routine which is basically a head massage, I don't even care that I was getting it done by a fellow male it was enjoyable, there I said it (because you know just because you say "there I said it" it makes the previous sentence perfectly all right). I almost fell asleep by the way.

I wish I had a camera for what happened next part because after the hair washing I turned to the mirror and laughed out loud, I looked like a long haired Gob Bluth (character played by Amy Pohler baby's daddy Will Arnett) with the slicked back hair. Nick couldn't help but laugh out loud at me either. Good times.

Next was the moment I had been dreading since the thought of having to go to someone other than Tony had crossed my mind; how to explain what I wanted (still plagues me with every non-Tony haircut). Tony knows me, I just need to nod my head and he cuts my hair the way I like it, its simple and I like it. This was going to be a whole different can of worms. For starters this guy did not have complete mastery of the English language and when I tried to explain what I wanted he looked confused, my heart sank (and on the inside I started to weep).

After I had finally communicated what I wanted as best I could the haircutting began, and the angst continued to ride (come on Kev proofread! He meant rise). As scared as I was the man did cut with confidence, he was quick and decisive and left no room for second guessing, what I didn't understand was his approach. He was just all over the place, the back the front the side the top, all over. He also decided to split my hair right down the middle and work symmetrically mirroring his cuts from side to side. At the time though I didn't quite get this, I thought he was parting my hair in the middle and giving me the Hugh Grant look. Which yes I do have a strange liking for Hugh Grant (not just a little, full blown man-crush is more like) but I could never pull off his hair style. At this point I was beside myself in fear of the final product, cursing myself for not getting a proper haircut just before I left (which would not have mattered because I still would have needed another haircut regardless).

But suddenly everything seemed to be falling into place, the sides and back were the right length, the side burns were perfect, and the front was shaping up to be better than usual. When all was said and done I liked my haircut, it worked, and I was happy.

Something must have happened while I was writing this because I like how I wrap up a story, that I thought was supposed to be riveting, in two sentences. Good job Kev.

But no one can hold a candle to Tony Ciulla.

Sadly since I now reside soley in Boston and hardly ever make it into Gloucester my hair is no longer cut by Mr. Tony Ciulla it is cut by a variety of haircutting hacks throughout the city. If only I was Manny Ramirez and could afford to pay for my Barber to follow me wherever I go.

Friday, December 12, 2008

When Girls Cry

I must admit I have made girls cry before, but usually it's because they were close to me. At least in all the cases I know of, I knew their name and we had been acquaintances for more than an hour. That was not the case on Tuesday.

I may or may not have mentioned this before but in addition to working for the BRA and at Borders I work as an Intramural Referee for Northeastern (I will post more about this some day) and have done so for over a year now. Tuesday was the finals for both Hockey and Broomball (a sport which deserves its own post in the future) which is always a fairly nerve racking shift because adrenaline is high and people really want that Championship T-Shirt (the lengths they go to for a shirt).

On this day I am tasked as supervisor (yeah I'm not much of an Underling at this job, oops) to collect all the IDs. Well as it happens a girl meekly comes up to me as I am collecting Husky IDs and checking off their names on the rosters and she says;

Girl: "Is there anyway I can play without my ID, I lost it today and didn't have a chance to get a new one"

Me: "I'm sorry but it is University policy that all players must turn in a NU ID in order to play"

To this she starts to tear up and I'm just standing there shouting on the inside "Oh god please please please please don't cry!"

But she does.

A lot.....

And I don't know what to say, she cannot play, it is University policy, there is nothing I can do short of something getting me fired. And I understand why she can't, there is too much liability at stake for us to let her play. I feel like shit, but rules are rules. The worst part about it was that I knew she had been thinking about it from the moment she couldn't find her ID. She had been dreading the moment when she would walk up to the man with IDs (in this case it was me) and ask if she could still play. Now her mind was probably about 95% sure that she couldn't play but there was probably 5% that thought that maybe she would get someone to fudge the rules and let it slide, which is why she still came to the game and asked if she could play. It is because of that 5% that she didn't cry until the moment when I converted that 5% of hope into 5% of despair (Just call me the destroyer of hope, the Anti-Obama). I made her cry. Without me there would have been no crying that day. That is how I interpretted that situation.

Northeastern, where you spend $40,000 to make girls cry!

New RSS Feed

For all of you who use an RSS reader to access this site I am putting in a new RSS link later today, courtesy of FeedBurner.

Add this to your reader

"You look like you need some practice. Here do my work."

When I first started here at the BRA my co-workers took me under their wing and helped me by showing me how to enter data correctly and if anything went wrong they would help. They started giving me their payrolls to enter so I could really get a handle on what I was doing. August rolled around and I was still getting stuff from them, the came September, October, November and now it's December, my finally month here, and they are still giving me their work to do but now they have dropped the whole "practice line" and toss it on my desk like I was supposed to do it all along or something. I'm starting to think I have been tricked....

I get it, I'm an intern, the lowest common denominator. But that doesn't mean people have to act like they are doing me a favor when in actuallity I am doing them a favor. I'm no moron (debateable), if you want me to do your work just tell me as much, it's my job to do it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dolly v Maganaro

I wrote this months ago and saved it. Now I post it for you.

Part of my job (internship, co-op whatever) is to go out to construction sites around Boston and retrieve the number of minorities, residents and females who work on any given job site (possibly a more detailed post on that later). One of my sites is the new Northeastern dorm building going up over on Columbus (Parcel 18) with the General Contractor being Walsh Brothers. Parcel 18 is a huge project with hundreds of workers on site many of whom are not residents, minorities or females, being a big project and being located in Roxburry, this poses quite the political firestorm but more on that some other time.

Now my contact down at the site is Dolly Battle (an appropriate last name), she is this old black lady from the neighborhood (and don't you forget it!) who does not take shit from anyone. I usually meet her at the Walsh trailer behind Northeastern and we walk over to the site where dome time she hands me off to Dan and then I do the rounds and get the numbers. On this particular day Dolly's knee was acting up so she handed me off to Dan and decided to hang back. Like usual we went around and got all the numbers with the exception of a few which we would get over two way (Nextel is the dominant provider of all construction workers). When was all said and done I had every sub contractor on the site accounted for except Mass Construction and Maganaro but they were in the middle of work and couldn't get to their numbers so I figured I would just get them from Dan the following week. Dan had some stuff to do so he asked me to give the Walsh brothers official count to Dolly on my way out which I did.

And I am glad that I did, because when I told in an offhand manner that I was unable to get numbers from Mass Con or Maganaro but would she kindly send me an email or phone me with the numbers when she got them she practically exploded. Apparently this was three weeks in a row that Maganaro has not reported their numbers, and Dolly was not about to stand for that. She yelled at the only other guy in the trailer to walkie Dan and have him get his ass over here, which he did rather hurriedly because he thought that he was going to get a "talken to". Dolly had a better plan she was going to yell at the foreman for Maganaro.

Now Dan and I already knew that the foreman had his hands full with work up on the top of the tower (about 19 stories up) and was not in favor of having to huff it down or wait for the elevator (doesn't work like a regular one, much longer) just to give us some numbers that were not going to change. However Dolly did not see it that way, to her the numbers were a measure of respect to her if they shirk the numbers then they are showing her job no respect (which now I think I agree with her on why she did what she did). Anyway she had Dan call Maganaro on the two way and the convo went something like this.

Dan:"Dolly wants your numbers now"

Maganaro Foreman: "Well I am still up here can I give it to you later?"

Dolly:"Tell him this is three weeks in a row, I want them now."

Dan:"She needs them now"

Maganaro Foreman: "Well can someone in my office give them to you?"

Dolly: "No I want to see him in his office in five minutes"

Dan: "She wants them from you at your office in five minutes"

At this point all I can picture is this foreman up on the top of the building cursing repeatedly about how much he thinks this whole compliance system is a crock of shit and it just makes his life harder. I sympathize, really I do but its the law and part of his contract with Walsh Brothers and the City of Boston so he knows he has to, and I have no sympathy for people who do not fulfill their duties. So down he went and up we went.

This was exciting because I had yet to go into the building itself as of yet, just around the outside, through the mud and into the trailers but now I was going to get to go onto the second floor! Construction sites are fucking loud (yeah I know "No shit!") and it all looks so unorganized but yet a complex and integral building arises from all these small unorganized looking tasks, it amazes me. Not as amazed though as when I saw what is planned for the middle of the dorm, a small above ground park! that's right people (all freshmen) with inward facing dorm rooms will be looking over and enclosed park! And to think I just got to share my dorm accommodations with borderline homeless people (I lived at the YMCA my freshman year, yes like the song).

As I mulled over the though of my school spending my tuition on housing arrangements for future students instead of me we made it to the Maganaro office. Dolly strode right in with a big grin on her face as the Maganaro foreman sat there redface and scowling looking up at the woman who made her stop working and trek back down to his office. He gave her the numbers, with disdain I might add and she walked out of there with her respect.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Coca Cola and the Underling Reach an Accord

Earlier today, at aproximately 2:13 PM EST the Coca Cola machine on the third floor reached a peace agreement with a Mr. Underling. While the tennants of the deal are still to be learned it is believed that the Coca Cola machine has agreed to continue selling cans of coke at 75 cents per can to Mr. Underling for the forseeable future.

Representatives for the Coca Cola machine refused to comment until the deal is formally announced.

Mr. Underling could not be reached for comment but has been seen guzzling coke and feeding large sums of money into the machine.

Story by The AP

Our Long National Nightmare is Over

The Coke Machine has been refilled.

This is a Breaking News Story please be sure to check back later for more details.

What I Just Read: Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

Here at Grumbling we (well just I) would like to introduce a new segment called "What I Just Read". As you know, or probably don't know, I work at a Borders (look for a post about Borders this Sunday!) and the 33% off I get feeds into my reading habit. So I thought every time I finished a book I would write what I thought about it, if not for your people but for myself so that I can go back and see how I felt about it. I'm not good describing why I like things and I don't fancy myself as much of a book critic so these should start off as being small and not that in depth, but I will try and make them better as time goes on.

No spoilers will be posted unless explicitly marked as such.

And sorry but there probably won't be another one after the first one for a while I am now reading John Lennon: The Life which is 800 pages or so. So without further ado, here is Cosmopolis!

Cosmpolis by Don Delillo
I bought this book originally because it was half off at the book store on Newburry St and because I had read White Noise and Falling Man both of which I enjoyed and both of which were written by Mr. Delillo.

Without giving anything away I liked the book because the book takes place entirely in a Limo and in building that the Limo is parked in front of. It centers all around one man and goes into detail about people who are constantly in his life. It takes turns that you never saw coming and has an ending that is believable and slightly enjoyable but at the same time confusing as hell.

I liked it, would recommend it as a short read, and would read more books like it. Not much more to say about it other than if you are looking for a different type of read from an author who usually delivers the goods I would give this a shot, but by no means is it a must read.

That's it for now, I know could of had more too it, but I finished the book a few days ago and next book I should definitely be writing more because I will be thinking about sharing my thoughts with you guys while reading it. That and I have loved the Beatles since I was a child and have been on a huge John Lennon kick as of late. And it is 800 pages as opposed to 200 so at least 4 times as much writing next time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Quick Note

I changed the feed to only show the first 250 characters. So all of you who use a rss reader will have to access the actual site to read the whole post. Sorry, I hate when blogs do this as well but now I know why they do it.

In my case the reasons are two

1. I want everyone who reads to trigger the tracker so I get some cool stats (Yeah I'm a Geek).
2. I will be adding some features and stuff to the sidebar in the future and if you just use the reade you won't be able to see it.

If you really don't like coming to the site and just want it to be delivered to you then send me an email and I will personally email each post to you everytime I post something.

Edit: For now I changed it back because it isn't working like I thought it would. Once I get the kinks out I will set it to the way I want. Consider yourselves lucky.

We Want Vampire Blood!

This Sunday I got to see Vampire Weekend at the Orpheum. I really, really, really like Vampire Weekend, and I don't think I could stress that enough. I like their slight African style and it makes me think of Paul Simon (who I aslo really like) when I hear them. I am incredibly happy that I got to see them live and the show ranks up there as far as my favorite shows (NIN still wins out though). But that's not why I'm writing this post because hell I'm no music critic, nor am I good at stressing why I like things or what they compare to. What I am good at is observing and commenting on life. In other words, I'm a life critic. So here goes.

To start I got to go to the show with Daniel, my former room mate from Belgium, who was the first person to turn me on to Vampire Weekend (something I can not thank you enough for Daniel). Anyway I'm very excited and it appears Daniel is as well, and it is fucking freezing out, I mean nose fall off your face cold.

We show up to the Orpheum and there are scalpers outside selling tickets, which is funny to me because these guys are 40 and probably have no idea what kind of show is going on inside. I comment to Daniel that they probably think its a Vampire show springing from the love of Twilight and True Blood.

Side Note: I work at Borders (details of which will come, I promise) and we have the trailer of Twilight running up at the registers all day. Really predictable storyline is all I will say.

After seeing the scalpers and talking about them we proceed inside. First order of business: buy a beer. Well last time we were at the Orpheum Daniel had the gaul to bring his Texas issued drivers license, acceptable at most drinking establishments as a form of ID, but apparently not the Orpheum. This time he came prepared, he brought his US passport accepted by every country on the planet as proof that he is who he says he is. Here is how I recollect the transaction going down.

Beer Gremlin: "Not so fast Mr. Slomka! Do you have a back up?"

Our Hero: "For my Federally Issued ID, accepted by all as the be all end all form of identification?"

Beer Gremlin: "I must have a backup!"

Our Hero: "I've gotten into Europe on an expired visa with this thing and you won't give me a fucking beer?"

Beer Gremlin: "I must have my precious second ID!"

Our Hero: "Do you think I faked a passport, which is a federal crime, to get a beer as opposed to getting a fake MA ID which would probably get me in far less trouble?"

Beer Gremlin: "Give me the ID!"

Our Hero produces his Texas ID and receives his Miller Lite.

Beer Gremlin: "That will be $9."

Our Hero: "First you call me a liar and now you rob me?"

With that dialogue (which may or may not be completely truthful) over with (I mean really $9 Miller Lite?) we move to our seats. Our seats which turn out to be in the last row of the balcony (not a bad seat though). We get to our seats just in time for the opener Black Kids (who really were not too bad, I recommend them if you like Vampire Weekend) Daniel and I decide to stand because sitting is not an option (legs won't fit) and we are in the last row so we can stand on our seats and lean against the back wall (that is why the seats were not too bad).

Well about 5 minutes later these two humongous guys (football players at one point, clearly) and their girlfriends (dressed a bit too nice in my opinion) waltz in, they proceed to dance in place and make out for the rest of the current song. That and one of the girls insists that Daniel and I chug our $9 Miller Lites which I respond with a "Not happening honey" to which she does that frowny face that girls do when they want you to do something, a face that they think makes them look cute, I choose to tell her instead that I paid $9 for a shitty beer that will not be chugged, she then turns around and makes out with her boyfriend the Ogre.

As the song goes "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong" these 4 did not belong here. If you didn't already know most Indie kids and people who like Indie bands look like Daniel and myself; skinny, with tight jeans, tight shirts and we don't work out much. These people were far from that. The guys clearly spent more time in a gym than most other places, had the classic preppy jock attire of Khakis and a button up and had the normal stupid smirk on their face. The girls were dressed like they should be at a club with dresses and lots of jewelry. Let it be known that they were not your normal Vampire Weekend fans by any stretch of the imagination.

Well Black Kids finishes up a song and is talking to the crowd a bit about the next song and at this moment Ogre 1 & 2 decide to heckle the band shouting "We want Vampire!" "Give me Dracula!" "I want vampire Blood" "Play some Dave!". Everyone in our section is cracking up, I mean who heckles the opener? Who pays attention enough to heckle the opener? They keep doing this for a few songs, as well as one of the girls keeps telling Daniel and I to keep drinking and to stop texting our girlfriends. She then proceeds to call me a pussy for not taking shots before the show (I was at work and yeah I hate shots). Then the boys left to do something (maybe give some poor indie kid a swirly) and at this point the girl who is not giving me shit (she has moved on to the guys next to us) tells me that they actually have no idea who Vampire Weekend is (shocker!) and bought their tickets for $5 each (saddening because I paid $15) because they thought it would be cool. To which I replied

"You do realize Vampire Weekend has nothing to do with Vampires right?"

Not as drunk girl: "Oh, no I didn't"

Me: "They are an Indie band from Columbia University in NY"

Drunk Girl: "So daddy paid for their college?"

Me: "No, I think they might just be that smart to get in there"

Drunk Girl: "So daddy paid for your college?"

Unfortunately Papa Doyle will not be covering the whole tab and I currently have three jobs, which I tell the drunk girl.

At which point the Ogres come back and join the conversation.

Not as drunk girl: "So who are they like?"

As I said earlier, I'm not good at comparing bands or critiquing them, not to mention these poor souls won't know anyone I mention so I say a few bands (Ra Ra Riot, Tokyo Police Club) names that I know come up in the artist web and then hope they will just think I'm stupid and then stop asking me questions. No, no they don't stop.

Not as drunk girl: "Can you name some more mainstream bands?"

Ogre #2: "Yeah like OAR?"

Ok let's stop it there for a second. Combined with the Dave comment earlier, this question if Vampire Weekend is like OAR just rubbed me the wrong way. I have no problem with OAR, they sound good, I just don't care for them Same with Dave, just not my cup of tea. The thing is, everyone likes Dave and OAR, if you aren't big into music you like Dave and OAR, all jocks like them, all preppy kids, everyone. And on top of that their fans love to insist that their shows are the best on Earth and "How can you not like them?! They are ssssooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good!"

You know why I don't like them? Because you people insist that I should and act like these mediocre bands (yeah I said it) are amazing and everyone should like them. I don't want to bash your music taste, whatever makes you happy fine, but please don't insult my choice of a concert in a couple thousand seat concert hall, which you were able to scalp tickets for for $5 by asking me if they are anything like OAR a band that sells out 15k seat venues all over the country. No sir, I think my taste is a little more defined than Dave and OAR (on second read that sounds really bad. Let me clarify: I don't think Vampire Weekend is better than other bands nor do I think I'm better because I like them what I am trying to say is I try to find what I like in the music world and don't just settle on something that is easy to listen to. I pick a band because they get me going, put a smile on my face and make me want to move around, not just give me something to talk about when the subject of music comes around).

Well after that they left, ironically because of the Orpheum Gestapo and their drinking policy which wouldn't let them get their $9 Miller Lites. After their departure all of us in the section started laughing about them and talking about how happy we were to be at the show.

As for the show. Great show. Vampire Weekend is a bunch of goofy geeks up on stage who haven't gotten over the fact that people actually like their music yet. The venue was great (a little hot though) all the fans new every word and were belting them out, the place was rocking (literally, Daniel and I were a bit worried) which I would like to say I have never experienced.

In other words, I had a great time listening to a great band. I highly recommend them, check out their myspace, buy the album (or steal it) just give it a listen. No they don't sound like Dave or OAR, no they don't dress like vampires (dress more like college professors) and no you don't have to like them. But if you do, great. Learn the lyrics and next time they come by your city go to a show and sing along.