And you’ll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from Hull Ma,
Aboard this tiny ship.
Laneit was a mighty sailin’ man,
Maz brave and sure.
The class of 1997 set sail that day,
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour…
The word still sends chills down my back. Mr. Zambuto was the name of one of our teachers during our senior year of high school. His class was called Principles of Technology, and if you know what means, then you are much smarter than me.
Actually, if you know what Principles of Technology is, you’d be smarter than Mr. Zambuto too, because he knew less than I did. And did I mention Mr. Zambuto looked just like the late Scottish comic Ronnie Corbett?
Anyways, he wasn’t a very good teacher, at least not for that class. To be fair though, it wasn’t all his fault. Up until the 1996-1997 school year, Zambuto was teaching electronics in our school. Our Principles of Technology teacher the previous year had been Mr. Soule, Now him we all liked.
Not only did Mr. Soule look like Archangel from “Airwolf,” but he taught in a way than even a someone like me could understand what he was talking about. Why they replaced him with Zambuto remains a mystery to this day.
During our senior year, Principles of Technology was the one class I dreaded to attend. But every so often it was worth the misery. Take for instance the day when Mr. Zambuto decided to bring out a Van de Graaff generator for class. You may remember the device as that weird thing you saw in school once that made people’s hair stand up
Mr. Zambuto grabbed the generator from a closet, and put it on a small desk he had near the front of the class. He then proceeded to explain the history of the device which to us meant one of two things:
By the time Laneit and I had started to doze off, Zambuto finally picked up the generator. He brought it to his main desk, and as he put it down, the thing toppled over towards us. I swear to you it happened in slow motion, and as the sphere busted open, all these smaller spheres spilled out all over the room. I don’t know what they were called or even if they were part of the generator.
Mr. Zambuto was in utter shock as the generator tipped over, and when he saw all the spheres rolling around the floor he shouted “My balls!” This was too much for Laneit, me, and everyone else in the class.
All of us burst into laughter, someone even fell off their chair from laughing so hard. And through the entire ordeal all Zambuto could muster was “Find my balls” or “Pick up my balls!”
Like many people out there, I hated school when I was young. Let’s just say I don’t have many good memories of school between 4th grade and 11th grade. The one year I did enjoy was my senior year of high school.
That year, I was in all the same classes as my fellow TNU members, Laneit and John. We walked from class to class together, and even had lunch together. This was a huge perk thanks to the fact that we were all in the vocational part of the school. Spending most of the day together led us to hanging out more, going to movies more, and basically made us closer than ever before.
Occasionally we’d hang out at the mall, usually when we were broken or bored. One such occasion came in April 1997. John, myself, and a friend we called Meathead, headed to the Hanover Mall in Hanover MA. Before I go on I need to take a moment to talk about Meathead.
Meathead was a little odd at times, for instance: he was obsessed with Burger King, and once when I called him at home he told me he was playing with his sister’s pussy, only to find out from his brother he was playing with her cat. Another time, Meathead got mad at me because I got my girlfriend diamond earings, to which he said: “You never get me anything like that.” So yeah, Meathead was odd.
Anyways, back in 1997, the Hanover Mall had a food court, and that’s where we’d usually eat. Years later the food court closed to make room for an Old Navy, which kind of sucked for us. But next to the food court there was a candy store for a long time. This was the type of store where you fill your own bag with whatever you want and they weigh it at the register.
From what I remember, John and I were browsing the movie section at the f.y.e. store across from the candy place. Meathead decided he wanted some candy while we walked around the mall, so he headed to the candy place. I sat down in a bench between the stores, and a few minutes later Meathead emerged red-faced. Our conversation went something like this:
Me: You okay?
Meathead: When I was paying, I saw a sign that said “25% off senior dicount.”
Meathead: I told the lady I was a senior and she laaughed at me.
Me: I would have too.
Me: Because you’re not 65!
Meathead: What does that have to do with… oh.
My last flea market adventure was late last year. but you know, sometimes, a long break between visits to my friendly neighborhood flea market is a good thing. A few months in between visits means there’s a decent chance that next time I go there, I’ll find new stuff and maybe even new vendors.
And guess what? That’s exactly what I found.
This trip to the flea market I didn’t find as much stuff as I usually do, but the stuff I did find was pretty good I thought. First off, I checked out the DVD vendor and he had Flash season 2 for $8, so of course I picked it up. I also bought the blu rays of “Minority Report,” and “Jurassic Park.”
My next stop had some surprises in store. A woman I hadn’t seen before was selling a lot of used books and magazines, but she also had some old comics on her tables. This is where I found a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #15 (first appearance of Kraven the Hunter), and Amazing Spider-Man #29 (2nd appearance of the scorpion).
Amazing #15 cost me a whopping $5, and issue #29 was only $2. Granted, the comics weren’t anywhere near mint condition, but at those prices I wasn’t going to complain.
Since March has felt more like February, it’s not surprise the wifey has been fighting off a cold for the last few days. But when I started feeling the symptoms too, I decided to drink a shot of NyQuil.
This was a big mistake on my part because the NyQuil gave me one of the strangest dreams I’ve had in a while.
In the dream, Laneit and I went on a Medieval adventure. The place we were at was sort of like Westworld, but this place ran a week-long game in which you and other tourists were put in a group that had to make it from one side of the park to the other. One of the rules of the game was that each member of the group had to be leader for at least one day.
This suited Laneit just fine, because the only reason he agreed to go with me was that the fact that he could drink all he wanted, and he would be able to kill attackers with swords.
Also in our group were comic book writer Gail Simone, and Fox Sports host Charissa Thompson. For the first couple of days things went by smoothly. Everyone was pitching in to ensure our survival, and Gail Simone kept us entertained by telling us stories. Laneit and Charissa Thompson seemed to bond over their slaying of a dragon looking creature that attacked us in the middle of the night.
Even taking turns as leader was going smoothly. At least until it was the turn of our fifth group member, Bill Nighy. As leader, Bill decided we should cross a river instead of sticking to the road we had been on from the start. None of us agreed with his decision, but since he was leader, we had little say in the matter.
In the river crossing we lost our wagon, food, pet goat, Laneits booze, and Charissa Thompson. Bill Nighy was the first to make it to the other side, as soon as he stood up to celebrate the crossing, he was taken down by an arrow.
As Gail, Laneit, and I made it to shore, we were ambushed by another group of tourists led by Terry Crews. Just when all hope seemed lost for our group, we heard a woman yell from above, leap down towards us, and within seconds, laid waster to Terry crews, err, crew.
The woman who saved us was none other that TNU’s own NYPinTA. She was sporting two massive swords, and a crossbow. I don’t know where she learned to fight like that, and I was too shocked to ask. Anyways, she led us out of the park to safety. I was happy to be alive, Laneit was happy with his swords, and Gail Simone said she had enough material for a new Red Sonja series.
So why would i have such a bizarre dream? My guess is Charissa Thompson and Terry Crews were there because on Saturday I binged watched a few episodes of “Ultimate Beastmaster.”
And I think Gail Simone was there because that day I was reading some of her Birds of Prey issues. As for Laneit, we texted back and forth this weekend, so maybe that’s why he popped up there. But I have no idea why Bill Nighy showed up my dream. I guess the moral of the story is: don’t mix Chinese food and NyQuil.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2003. I had just returned from another succesful comic convention in Boston, and everything had gone well that day until I had another argument with my uncle and aunt.
I’ve never had the best relationship with them, and all the issues between us boiled over that Sunday afternoon. This was the biggest argument the three of us ever had, and that’s saying something because we’d had some whoppers.
The details of the verbal brawl aren’t important, what is important is that this was the last time I set foot in their house for 5 years. And the relationship is just now starting to heal. Anyways. I was livid with them, and things got worse when my mother took their side. I needed an escape, and even thought about going to work for a couple of hours to cool off. But like magic, the Bat-phone rang.
Actually, it was my cell phone that rang. It was my boss Krysty on the other end asking I felt like going out with her and Ali for drinks. I weighed my options for a moment: A) Stay where I was and argue some more. B) Go out with two hot girls and get drunk. This really was an easy choice, and within the hour Krysty and Ali picked me up and we headed to the nearest Chili’s.
As I drowned my sorrows in a couple of kamikaze shots and baby back ribs, and thet split a dessert, Krysty suggested we meet her boyfriend Kris at Video To Go after we ate. Since Kris wasn’t old enough to drink, he’d serve as our designated driver the rest of the night. Once we were all together, Krysty decided we should drive to Nantasket Beach in Hull MA. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid, so it sounded like a good idea to me. Plus I wanted to see if I could get Ali on the Paragon Carousel.
The ride to the beach was an experience to say the least. Kris was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and the girls in the back. Since this was the middle of summer, Krysty had removed the roof from her Jeep, but this meant we couldn’t hear each other talk. To make matter worse, Krysty had very long hair (still does), like down to her waist long. So everytime she tried to lean forward to say something to us, her hair either blinded Kris, or went in my mouth. Both Krysty and Ali thought this was the funniest thing in the world, but it was probably due to the alcohol from Chili’s.
We eventually made it to Nantasket beach, but we were disappointed to find the carousel was closed for the night. Luckily plenty of restaurants and bars were still opened, but we decided to walk the beach first. After walking around for a while, we stopped by a lifeguard post. Kris and I sat in it, while Krysty showed us some of her cheerleading moves.
Turned out that while in junior high/high school, Krysty had been a competetive cheerleader. Her school even made it to nationals. She even tried out for the New England Patriots once upon a time. Krysty kept trying to tell us all about her glory days, but truth be told, I just kept picturing the finale of “Bring it On.”
Anywho, as Krysty was attempting one of the toughest moves in cheerleader world, she flipped through the air and fell flat on her ass. I thought she was hurt, but she just laughed it off. As we helped her up, Ali said “My turn, my turn!” So she attempts a cart-wheel right in front of us. She actually did pretty well, but the landing could have used a little work.
All the jumping and rolling around in the sand must have shaken something lose because both girls had to find the nearest ladies room. This happened to be right across the street at some mom & pop bar. Before Kris and I realized it, Ali and Krysty were sprinting to the bar. We decided to wait for them in the Jeep, or at least that was the plan.
Within a couple of minutes Ali was calling my cell telling us that a group of guys kept hitting on them, so could we go help them. I said “Well, I can, but Kris can’t go in a bar.” I walked over, and waited for them to come out. When I saw them, I grabbed Ali by arm and she grabbed Krysty. I think I heard one of them saying “Weeeeeee!” as we ran out, but I can’t be positive.
The next morning I called Ali from work to how she was doing. Her answer was simple, and to the point: “Sand gets in the strangest places.”
One of the toughest things about starting a new job is making new friends. This was never easy for me to begin with, and adding a new job to the mix always ramped up the stress factor.
The one time I didn’t have an issue making new friends at a new job was when I joined Video To Go. From day one at VTG I felt like I had a friend, and her name was Ali. Well, her name is Alexis, but everyone called her Ali. One time I accidentally called her Alex, and it did not go well for me.
Anyways, since today is her birthday, I thought this was the right time to tell you more about my best buddy from my Video To Go days.
Ali was the first person at VTG that made me feel welcome. As she taught me how to close the store, she was the only co-worker who asked stuff about myself, about my family, what I liked, where I went to school, stuff like that.
It was nice to have someone actually seem interested in my hobbies and what not. Within a couple of days we were chatting online after work, before work, you name it. Sometimes we’d talk into the wee hours of the morning discussing movies, awards shows, and our beloved Red Sox.
Although Ali and I became fast work friends, it took a little while before she started hanging out with my friends and me. I could understand that, after all, we are pretty scary. But before you knew it, she was part of our Tuesday $5 Night Club. She would also occasionally join us for dollar pizza night at a place called Hajjars near VTG. This was also the place where we witnessed some terrible karaoke from some of our customers and even our fellow Video To Go co-workers.
Over the course of the next several years, many key moments in my life included Ali. There were some funny moments too. I still remember being on the phone with her when Janet Jackson flashed her boob during the Super Bowl halftime show.
I remember the wardrobe malfunction moment well, because all I could say on the phone was “Boobs, boobs.” I must have sounded like a complete idiot, and of course Ali didn’t understand what the heck I was rambling about.
I also remember the night I was working when she called me from her brother’s house and said “Duuuude, Madonna just totally made out with Britney Spears! It was awesome…” and then she snorted and laughed. I later found out why she sounded like she was out of it, and that explained a lot of things. Regardless, it was a funny call.
But perhaps my favorite moment came one Friday night when Ali was driving Laneit and me home. For some reason we started talking about the terrible 1987 Bill Cosby movie “Leonard Part 6.” Keep in mind this was back when everyone still thought Bill Cosby was a decent guy, so discussing his work was not unheard of. Anyways, as Laneit and I discussed the merits of “Leonard Part 6,” Ali said something along the lines of “I haven’t seen Part 6, or any of the other 5.” To say that Laneit and I were in tears from laughing, would be an understatement.
To say the least, Ali was one of the most important people in my life for a long time. She was a huge part of my twenties, and we saw each other through a bunch of stuff during those years. Starting in 2008, Ali and I hit a rough patch. I moved away from the Boston area, and we stopped talking for a number or reasons.
It took a long time, years in fact. But for about three years now, I’m happy to say Ali and I are friends again. I’m happy about that, because we do share a lot of history. A lot of stuff has changed since we first met way back in 2001, but I believe we’re both in good places now. So happy birthday Ali, and I hope you got the “Leonard Part 6” DVD I sent you.