Category Archives: The stories I tell

Random stories I like to tell.

Confessions of a grammar freak

Few things in my life have more succinctly summed up my personality than this cartoon.  Several friends can attest to the stress I had before getting a tattoo on my shoulder recently, should there or should there not be a comma in there?  This debate took longer than picking the tattoo itself and ended up including the guy who ran the tattoo place, all of his employees and everyone who had the misfortune of walking in while I was there.  At least I was entertaining.

This got me thinking.  Why do I care so much about grammar?  I mean, when I was on that business trip to Albuquerque did I really have to boycott a perfectly good restaurant because “unless there is a woman there named Margarita and she’s having a personal special, I cannot walk in” ???  Couldn’t I have just asked them to change their sign? (Truthfully, this was several years ago and that option just occurred to me yesterday. D’Oh!)

I tell myself that poor grammar and punctuation habits mark a devolution in our ability to use our language skills and therefore will lead to an inability to communicate.  I will add that in an era when we need to communicate more rather than less if we are going to survive — the GOP does not have a monopoly on apocalyptic ideas — we need to pay closer attention to this.  You see, it’s not a mere pet peeve, it’s my concern for humanity.

Or I blame others.  I blame my sixth grade teacher for making us diagram sentences for weeks on end. (Side note: he was a mean bastard for sure but the rumor that he once threw me out a window is not true.)  I blame my college roommate, Marsha not Ali, who was a English major whose grammar was so bad it made me sick back then.  She asked me to correct her whenever she made a mistake and I like to think that started all this craziness.

The bottom line is that I will never know what sparked my obsession with apostrophe usage, action verbs and adverb hatred.

I will end with one last idea.  Dear US journalists:  When you add “ing” to a verb, it becomes a noun.  That’s called the gerund.  Unless you are writing a headline, stop doing this and use a goddamn verb.  Does everyone else feel better?  I know that I do.

My David Duchovny story

I know everyone has one so I am boring.  I have also noticed my more personal posts, even ones where I am not torturing readers with tales of my wonderful childhood (ps. I really didn’t mean to torture anyone, sorry), get more hits than my brilliant political analysis so I am going to write more.  Plus the more I write, the more I want to write (in terms of variety) so that’s a win-win for me and my stalled screenplay/sitcom pilot.

When I was packing my crap yesterday, and it is all just so much crap, I found my X-Files watch.  Yep, I was one of those people.  Now, I was not a follower from day one, nor did I refuse to go out on nights it was on (even back then we had ways to record shows when we weren’t at home).  I really actually got into it after my first presidential campaign — Clinton/Gore ’96.  Indeed, the Crypt Keeper and I are twins.  In my months of stressed-out unemployment before I went to work for RCA Victor, I stayed up late into the evening watching Fox Mulder and Dana Scully trapse around the country looking for aliens and whatnot.  It’s a good thing I am a fiscal liberal because in hindsight, that does seem like a wasteful government program if ever there was one.

It is true that I found the subject matter interesting.  It is also true that my roommate came home one afternoon and told me had his hair cut like Duchovny.  There is no connection between the two.  Just felt it should be said.  It is equally true that I had a major crush on David Duchovny.  If you have not heard the Bree Sharp song, I highly recommend it.  Now, this is partly because I read a quote of his about how his parents’ divorce impacted his view of love.  Without looking it up, I believe he said something to the effect of “It introduced the idea that love can leave and changed the way I view it.”  Now, if there was a more succinct way for me to explain my commitment phobia better, I haven’t found it.  But this isn’t about that. At the end of the day, however, I just thought he was hot.

The next year, I found myself working in NYC at RCA Victor as a publicist.  One night, I went out with some friends and played some pool and drank some beer (not a ton but enough) and when I got home, Saturday Night Live, was on.  David Duchovny was hosting.  For the record, I am no stalker and have had issues with people stalking me so  I take that very seriously but… I thought it was silly for him to be in NYC and me to be in NYC and for us to not meet.  I mean, really!  So, I pulled out a phone number for SNL that Darrell Hammond had given me (story for another day) and called it.  Darrell, they said, was on stage “saying goodnight” (it was on TV, I knew they weren’t lying) — why didn’t I just pop into the cast party?  Where is it?  I asked.  They told me.  And it was on.

My pool playing clothes weren’t gonna cut it.  Threw on a tight dress, did my hair and makeup, called a car service and I was on my way.  While the lovely woman at the entrance went to check if my name was on the guest list, two security guards asked Why are you on that side of the desk and we’re on this side?  To which I said, You tell me.   I was in.

Before 30 seconds, I saw there was a VIP area.  Of course there was.  What to do, what to do… I walked over and talked to the person there. Listen, one of my clients is in there and I just need them to know I didn’t leave without letting them know.  I am super tired and just want to go home — can you give them my card and tell them I will call on Monday?    To this day, I have no idea where that lie came from.  The woman told me she could not leave the desk and wasn’t sure she could let me in but she clearly believed me.  Lucky thing number two happened just then.  Jim Brewer was in the VIP area and he said, Don’t worry, I know her, she’s fine.  That part wasn’t a lie, we had met at several record company things in the months before this.

To recap:  In under and hour I went from a bar in Brooklyn to the VIP part of a SNL cast party.  This was clearly as far as this Icarus was going to make it.  I was fine with that so I did a few shots of what, I’ll never know.  That was a bad idea because that’s when I met David Duchovny.  Standing there, feeling Ke$ha tipsy, I felt a tap on my shoulder and a man extended his hand to shake mine:

“Hi, my name is David.”

“I believe you.”  Then I turned brain dead and went into auto-pilot.  I always have some canned response for when I meet a famous person so I can avoid saying things like, nice tie.  Instead I went with, “There are four people on earth who make me starstruck and you are one of them.”
“Who are the other three?” (For some reason, Fight Club dialogue seems appropriate here, we have just lost cabin pressure…)“Uhhh…. President Clinton, VP Gore and Hillary Clinton….” EPIC FAIL.

The conversation didn’t last too much longer than that.  I went home with my tail between my legs and couldn’t look at his picture for at least six months without wanting to vomit.  The only upside was I did tell myself that I had been an idiot in front of the one famous person I really had a crush on and the sun still managed to rise the next day, thereby giving me licence to be stupid in front of all sorts of new and exciting people.

And now, it’s just a fun story I tell.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Ahhh…. college

Oh, so that's liquid nitrogen pouring on me, then?

Certain events this week have me thinking about college.  And, don’t worry, this is a personal post but nothing sad or depressing.  I am not sure how interesting this will be to anyone who wasn’t there but I hope it makes you laugh, Ali.

The various pictures are all from the site: www.stonytbrooksucks.com and are undoctored photos from around campus.

I was back at Stony Brook for homecoming last fall — which was my first Stony Brook homecoming ever, I didn’t even go when I went there.  A lot has changed.  The bridge to nowhere is gone, which makes me sad.

First up:  Dumb things Stony Brook did.

Stony Brook University is supposed to be known as one of the best SUNY schools and have excellent science and engineering departments.  Yet the following statements are all true:

  1. The hugely expensive sports complex cannot be used, as promised, for sports events like track because the track is six inches too short. 

    Attack of the crasher squirrel!

    (Similarly, the pool, also built for outside events, was built backwards.)

  2. For years they had a ‘bridge to nowhere’ that was supposed to connect the library to the student union, one is across the street from the other but it failed to do so.
  3. One university president, in his desire to make the school more like USC, wanted a bell tower with a clock to chime throughout the day but the school had no money so he played a recording of chimes, complete with static, on the hour, each hour.  Stay classy, Stony Brook.
  4. Although hurricane season occurs every year at the same time, major roof repairs were done to many of the dorms in August.  Yes, one struck Long Island and yes, those dorms flooded.
  5. Two quads were listed as “G” and “H” on diagrams for the school during its construction, not being clever enough to think of real names, they stayed that way for more than 30 years.
  6. People always get lost in the library because when they wanted to expand it, they just build a new one around the old one.
  7. When I was in the student government, I was on a panel to improve the quality of our food.  We were asked to discuss our most memorable experience with the food (seriously, not “what was your best food?” but what has your most “memorable experience with the food” — well, that time we…).  Mine was when they offered us veal patties.  Being curious about how a state school was serving veal, something which I have not eaten since I was 10, I asked for one.  It was empty.  Fried air.  That’s where those crack engineering minds were spending their time.

Next up: dumb things I did:

These are the things that should comfort me whenever I think it is early senility or my most recent head injury causing me to forget something (like the time recently I ran into get my checkbook and ran out with my remote control).  I should take heart; I was always this absent minded.  When we were roommates (side note: my name is Alyson, my roommate’s name was Alison and one of my best college friend’s name was Allison, you can imagine how interesting that made things), I thought our outgoing dorm voicemail should be one of those “I am sorry, can you please speak up…?” deals, so I recorded one.  My idea and my voice and yet it still managed to fool me at least five times.  All of the roommates (we were in a six person suite), thought it was hilarious that I set my alarm clock ahead by several minutes to trick myself.  A few joked they were going to change it to screw with me more and one did — rather than being 15 minutes ahead it was somewhere in the range of 90.  For more than a semester I showed up everywhere more than an hour early. (In my defense, that was only mornings when I had something early.  Against me, I was in the student government that year and clearly, no job on earth carries the importance of that, so I did go into “my office” pretty early most days.)

Remember Gina’s ‘heap of hope?’ (Gina was not the most tidy suitemate and had a pile roughly the size of Everest on her bed.)  Yes, that remote control we lost for several months was in there.

How about Misha the cat from hell? Or how she kept leaping from the balcony?  Or how we had to hide the cats in the shower when they did room inspections?  Or Randi’s birds that shit everywhere.  

Not sure why, but back in college I liked to walk around singing the Ivory Soap commercial.  Not kidding.  One day I was in some building on campus and ran into Iowa (another suitemate) singing it.  She swore me to promise never to tell anyone but I think the statute of limitations has run its course on that one.

Anyway, when I went back, there were a lot of changes.  I don’t know what this says about me — maybe nothing, the olfactory system is supposedly one of the most closely connected to memory — but when I walked down the stairs of the union building it was as if not a moment had passed since you and I were there.  The smell brought it all back: The Rainy Night House, that student government scandal my campaign nearly caused (ironic and sad) and how lucky I am that we were roommates.

Love you.

Fun with insomnia

The Crasher Squirrel with me when I kissed the Blarney Stone (and if you know me, you know I kissed it.)

So, it’s 3:00 am and you can’t sleep.  No intellectual capacity for that weighty book you’ve been meaning to read?  Nothing but informercials on TV?  DVR filled with nothing but Vinney-less Jersey Shore episodes?  How ever will you pass the time?

The Crasher Squirrel!  Remember him?

A few years ago a couple was vacationing and took a photo.  They set up their camera to get them in front of a lake but the camera focused on a squirrel that ran out and got into the shot.  You can read about them and see their photo here.  You’d think they were actively trying to get a photo of him.  Little guy just wanted their friends back home to see how awesome he was.

Crasher Squirrel at an Inaugural Ball

Soon the world over got to see him as the story made headlines and people began inserting him into their photos, like I have here.  The above photo is from when I kissed the Blarney Stone in Ireland.  The one on the right is from an Inaugural Ball I attended with my friend, Arun Seraphin.

The possibilities are endless, really only limited by your imagination and the patience your friends and family might have in looking at photos they have already seen a thousand times before, only now with a delightful little squirrel inserted into them.

That's me with some kind of large weapon! Can you believe it? Me, either but it's true.

Watch out Crasher Squirrel! Don't fall off Kilimanjaro using the rest room!

On one of the many nights where I found my self tossing and turning, I remembered how much fun I had when I first heard the story and learned of the incredible invention, known only as the squrrielizer.

So, when you can’t sleep, consider the Crasher Squirrel.  Hours of fun for you and your family.

PS.  New shows were added to my comedy schedule.  Check it out!

Best Morning Ever. And if you know where I can acquire the life that I so desperately need, please let me know.

If you know me, you know I LOVE Morning Joe.  (Side note:  after I met Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski I called my mom because I was excited about it.  After I told her the news, without missing a beat she said Yeah, but Willie Geist is the best part of the show.  Uh, he wasn’t there, but thanks for pointing out the negative.)

This morning, Willie Geist retweeted my tweet about why I was awake at 5:30 AND made it a favorite.  You can tell from the screen shot I took, he doesn’t have a lot of favorites, he has one.  Mine.  I nearly fell off the treadmill.  That might be because he favorites tweets and then deletes it later but for the moment, my tweet about Vinny is the only one.  I should point out that I was truly heartbroken when he left Jersey Shore and pretty excited when he came back.  More than I should have been.  Celebrate everything, I say. (No, I did not actually stay up celebrating this awesome development but I was happy.)

Willie Geist's Twitter Page -- @HobbesDurden rocks!

Willie Geist retweets a @HobbesDurden tweetAnd for good measure here’s a screen shot of the retweet.

So far, @HobbesDurden has been mentioned on Way Too Early.  You can check out  that video here.  I was mentioned by Mike Barnicle — I had emailed in that I couldn’t sleep because my 20 lb cat was trying to kill me by jumping on my head.  He responded that  should learn about cat nutrition.  He then mentioned my cat on Morning Joe.

No matter what else happens today, this day is awesome.  Willie Geist, you are my hero,