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.