Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bad book

I can count on one hand the number of novels I have started and chosen not to complete. There is a new one to add to the list, The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta. I've been listening to it on my iPod, a free download from It is being read by Campbell Scott. I cannot tell if the book is poorly written or poorly read. This is what I do know. The lead male character, a drug addict/rocker turned evangelical Christian has no clarity of conviction, and his ambivalence about his religiosity is not remotely convincing. The dialogue between characters is filled with liberal preachiness and insincere stereotypes. And it reads as if Perrotta's editor told him to fill the book with pop culture references that will play well in a screenplay; on the "printed page" (or orally presented "page") they are fatuous. Finally, Perrotta goes off on tangents that seem to have no relationship to the development of the plot or the characters.

I'm already in the third part of the book, and desperately want to be surprised by it. But, I don't think I have the patience to listen any longer so that I might learn if (a) the characters gain more depth, or (b) the plot turn is as unexpected as I hope or as predictable as I fear. Perhaps if I were reading this, rather than listening to it, I could skip the stupid parts and just skim to get the gist of the story? Or maybe the story is really what I think it is - a thinly veiled, one-dimensional diatribe about abstinence education, when in fact it could be a much more interesting and complicated book about authority, ambivalence, attraction, and redemption?

Anyone else read this book, who can convince me Perrotta was not phoning it in on this one?


On an unrelated note of irritation, the Starbucks in Nashua, NH might quite possibly be one of the worst I've been to.


Hey! This was my 100th episode of "The Collected Works of Clownface"! Woohoo! I'm a centennial blogger!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Junk Mail

I told BMG, who is mildly obsessed with checking the mail at his post office box, that I check my mail only once every three or four days. "I know," he replied righteously. "How can you tell?" I said querulously. "Your box is always full of mail" said he.

Well, he is right. I love getting mail, and I hate retrieving my mail. It is an exercise in disappointment. There is rarely anything interesting in the mail. I even find bills interesting at this stage in the game, because they compel some sort of investigation and action on my part. But, by and large the mail is junk. I wish I could realize Kramer's fantasy on Episode Five of the final season of Seinfeld, when he decides to cancel his mail delivery indefinitely.

I wonder what would happen if I put a hold on my mail every week, only to release it once a week? You can put a hold on your mail via (which is ANOTHER blog entry - why is a government agency a and NOT a dot gov?) the web. I just put a hold on my mail for my trip to Florida next week. I think I may experiment with hold and unhold and hold and unhold.

I'll keep you posted on what happens.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


With the help of the lovely Dr. Torre Morgan and Mount Auburn Physicians' Associates, my belly issues have been diagnosed and I'm on my way to feeling better most of the time. I'm not allergic to anything. So, all of you out there who have worried about me starving for lack of dairy or gluten, set your worries aside! I'm going to live! Shall we plan to go out at the Cheesy House of Gluten to celebrate?

Send Bread

Not money, but Pig Bread. I am so happy to report that "When Pigs Fly" is opening a bakery in Somerville, right next door to the overrated (sorry) Kickass Cupcakes in Davis Square.

Whenever I have occasion to head up the Seacoast into NH or ME, I try to swing by the Company Store on Route 1 in Kittery. I have a loaf of sweet apple cinnamon bread in my refrigerator. BMG has a loaf of lemonade blueberry/raspberry bread. Yup, you heard that right. Instead of putting water in with the bread, they put in lemonade. And it is delicious! Mom was visiting over the weekend. She bought two loaves and took them home on Greyhound to freeze and use later for Thanksgiving dinner.

So. If you are in Kittery, go to "When Pigs Fly." If you are in Davis Square on or after December 1, go to "When Pigs Fly" on Highland Avenue.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Yellow Brands

I needed to have some preventive maintenance done on my car today, so I took it to one of two national chains in the neighborhood near my office. I went in and boldly asked for the 45-point inspection currently being advertised on television for $29.95. The service rep behind the counter looked at my blankly and said, "I don't know what you are talking about, but we don't offer that." It was 7:15 AM. I looked at him quizzically, and then said, "Darn it! It is the OTHER national auto chain with a yellow sign!" And then I realized, there are three national auto repair chains with logos that are dominated by the color yellow.

What's up with that?

(Work on the car cost $187. I'm hoping it will prevent something that costs $1,870 down the line.)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Down with Freecycle

I've been working on an editorial or letter to the editor or something where I can hop up on a little soap box and rant about Freecycle.

Don't know Freecycle? Go to Yahoogroups and search for "Freecycle insert your town's name here." Chances are there is one in your part of Boston/Massachusetts/New England/America/The World. It is an email exchange group that operates on the principle that "one's man trash is another man's treasure." People subscribe to the group and then get access to a treasure trove of used crap other people are trying to get rid of. For example, say my Aunt Esther is cleaning her closet and realizes she has a half-dozen partially used bottles of lotion samples she picked up at a hotel when she was traveling across Europe by train in 1963. She now has chemical sensitivities and can't use them. So, she sends an email with the "Subject line: OFFER: 1/2 used trial size lotion bottle from Holiday Inns across Europe." Inevitably, someone then sends HER and email message saying, "I have been looking to try lotion from the Holiday Inns across Europe. My fiancee and I will use these to help us decide where to go for our honeymoon. Are they still available?"

(Editorial interjection: This is what makes Freecycle great. Crap I don't want or cannot use doesn't clutter up my closet, nor does it take up space in a landfill. And, you get to find ways to use your stuff that never would have occurred to you. Lotion testing as a way of making vacation decisions?)

The Bride-to-Be has piqued Aunt Esther's interest and she sends an email back saying something like, "The lotion samples are yours. I love knowing someone else can put them to good use." Aunt Esther then proceeds to make pick-up or drop-off arrangements with the person who wants the lotions.

Okay, this is where the system collapses. There are a lot of really stupid or over committed, or indecisive, or timid, or geographically challenged people in the world. I would need more than two hands to count the number of times I've had a Freecycler agree to pick something up at my house, and then find that, a week later, they still haven't picked the thing up. I'll get emails from people saying things like, "I was at your house and didn't see (insert name of unwanted object here) anywhere." I'll go out to the designated pick-up point in my back hall, where the Freecycle item still sits in the same spot where I left it, usually labeled with the person's name or email moniker. I give pretty explicit directions, and instructions on where to find whatever goodie they are picking up - "Come into the back hall located on the (blank) side entrance to the house. The (insert name of unwanted object here) is in a blue bag with your name on it." So, I'll then send a slightly patronizing note back that reads, "Hmmm. Not sure what to say. The bag is still in the hall and still with your name on it. Sorry you wasted your time. I'll put the item in my garage sale pile. Good luck next time." Sometimes I'll get an email back that says, "Oh. I didn't open the door." Or, "Oh, you live in Somerville? I went to the address you gave me in Marshfield. I'll be by later today."

But usually I get silence.

Which is fine with me. I'd rather sell my crap for money than give it away to idiots who haven't figured out the joys of using a map or reading directions carefully, or opening up a door.