A List Of Annoying Names For Winter Storms

Winter Storm Jonas. Ugh. Not only is naming winter storms kind of dumb [looking at you Weather Channel], but If you’re under the age of 50, you, like us here at the Gloucester Clam, may have “My Name is Jonas” stuck in your head THE ENTIRE LENGTH THAT THERE IS STORM COVERAGE.

THE METEROLOGIST SWEARS HE LEARNED HIS MATH

THE METEROLOGIST SWEARS HE LEARNED HIS MATH THE NONESSENTIAL WORKERS ARE GOOOING HOOOOOOME YEAH YEAH YEAH

It won’t leave. It’s insipid. I mean, it’s a great song, but I’m yearning for last week when I had solely the flute part of Moonage Daydream stuck in my head for a record 9 days straight.

So that, my friends, got me thinking. If we’re going to name winter storms, we might as well face the truth: winter storms are incredibly annoying. We should start naming them after really annoying things. Such as.

 

Winter Storm Your Child Has Brought Home A Recorder From School

Winter Storm Netflix Has Encountered A Problem

Winter Storm Completely Unreasonable GoFundMe Request

Winter Storm Vaguely Christian 90’s Band

Winter Storm I Have A Structured Settlement But I Need Cash Now

Winter Storm Creepy Little Girls At A Trump Rally

Winter Storm Expresso

Winter Storm Guy Who Corrects Your Pronunciation of Espresso

Winter Storm Firework By Katy Perry

Winter Storm Eighth Client Revision

Winter Storm Ammon Bundy

Winter Storm Inebriated Thirtysomethings Singing Don’t Stop Believin’ At Karaoke

Winter Storm Every Maroon 5 Song

Winter Storm Chris Christie’s Face

Winter Storm Comcast Customer Service

Winter Storm That Guy That Never Stops Talking To You At Parties

Winter Storm Robocall That Your Debit Card Was Compromised

Winter Storm Nearly Unintelligible Public Official

Winter Storm Soggy Wrap

Winter Storm Replacing A Tooth Filling

Winter Storm Customer Feedback Survey Email

Winter Storm Watch Me Whip

Winter Storm Men’s Rights Activist

Winter Storm The Fact That They Don’t Make Super Mario Underpants For Adults

Winter Storm Manbun

Winter Storm #Blessed

And our favorite of all time:

Winter Storm 1-877-Kars 4 Kids (You can thank Anna Benedetto for that one)

 

YOUR CLAM PRESENTS: THE BEST ALBUM COVERS I HAVE SEEN AT MYSTERY TRAIN

It’s not a hugely well kept-secret that I’m mid-divorce, Clamistas. It’s a real pain, a long drawn-out process, even with a relatively amicable split and 50/50 division of caterwauling children and meager millenial assets. But the great thing? I have a sweet and fantastic boyfriend who works at Mystery Train, the giant awesome record store at the end of Main Street. He grew up in East Gloucester, so he is patient when I ask him things like “DID THEY FEED YOU KALE WHEN YOU WERE BORN” and “DID THEY DO YOGA IN THE SCHOOLS?”

So sometimes I go visit him at work, because I like his face. And I have for you a collection of the most ridiculous records I have seen so far upon my visits. Here.

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Guest Post: Hugo Burnham on David Bowie

[this guest post comes from our good friend and Gloucester resident, original Gang of Four drummer Hugo Burnham.]

My brother called me from England at 2:15 this morning. “Bowie’s dead.”

I was not taken wholly by surprise, but I was bit sad, thinking as I tried to fall back asleep, that I should listen to the new album I had downloaded on Friday. I reached for my phone and posted “Ah. Good grief.” on Facebook. And then turned the light out again.

When I pulled in to my parking space at 6:25am by the campus in Brookline – I had to just sit there, listening to his voice. A replay of an old NPR Fresh Air interview. Then I sort of lost it. It was a good 10 minutes before I swiped my card through the meter and walked to work. I told myself not to spend much time today online. I ignored myself. People are shattered. I am shattered too, honestly.

I could write such a lot about his part in my life. I was just at that age when he appeared on Top Of The Pops, playing ‘Starman’. It turned everything on its head for me. Fucking everything. And it changed it all for just about every person I know of my generation who became punks, post-punks, electronica-types, whatever. We have all talked about it in the 46 years since. 46 Years. My Brain Hurts a Lot. NOBODY wasn’t changed or moved.

And he kept doing it – even with a less-than-moving period in the ‘80s – always coming back with music (and writing, and acting….damn it, I saw him play The Elephant Man on Broadway). Because of him, we heard and listened to so many new and different artists who would never likely have crossed our lines of vision. I still go very quiet whenever I listen to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s ‘Avec Piano’. And I love Jacques Brel.

Many friends have know him, worked for him, played with him; he sent me and my best friend from high school flowers because he heard we’d got a rather severe kicking from some skinheads on the Tube coming back from The Rainbow one night after a Mike Garson/Woody Woodmansey concert…where we’d hung out in the lobby most of the night with (Spider) Trevor Bolder and Anya Wilson from Mainman. I hung out with Rhoda Dakar (The Bodysnatchers, Special AKA) at these gigs and in exotic, slightly scary Brixton at parties when I was 17 – and neither of us really knew we’d become who we had until years later (on bloody Facebook, of course). Still a good friend. But I never actually got to meet him. Damn it. “Oh, he loves Gang of Four!” we’d hear from those who had actually touched the hem. Another high school friend was his Tour Manager for years – sat in the same bar after a show…but I didn’t want to be rude, because I was talking to my friend, and DB was talking to the promoter. I’m such an idiot. Been so close…and always just too far.

bowie

It doesn’t matter who or what or how old you are – but, let me tell you; there are a number of us who really, really were a part of something quite small at first (but that grew like a bastard before long), who wore the clothes, who hobbled around on the shoes, who put on the slap, who went to The Saturday Gigs. That very early Ziggy show at The Rainbow – before it all took off… Lindsay Kemp’s troupe dancing, Roxy Music and/or Fumble opening. Everyone knowing to do the clap thing in ‘Space Oddity’, him coming out after the encore in a silk kimono to say he loved us, but hadn’t rehearsed any more songs he could play. Oh, David. Thank you.

bowieinside

We age, we die.  But this one has really, really hit hard today.

An Open Letter to the Officers of the First Order Re: Death Star Doctrine

il_340x270.767751302_ps14Note: The following contains spoilers.

An Open Letter To My Fellow Officers of the First Order; Gen Hux et. all.;

I wish to open this letter by acknowledging the difficult month we have shared, collectively, as leaders of the First Order. Most if not all of us reading this memo had close friends and trusted colleagues on Starkiller Base, their loss is a palpable wound.

However, even with the destruction of the Hosnian System and the hated Senate, it is up to us as officers to admit we have, yet again, suffered a defeat at the hands of the Resistance. Morale is at an all-time low. This is why we must be particularly careful not make hasty or foolish decisions without careful consideration of the polices that have led us to this low point in the otherwise glorious history of the First Order.

Which is why when entering a conference room on the leadership deck I was shocked and dismayed to discover a group of high-ranking officers, engineers and financial controllers in the middle of a meeting running over preliminary plans to create something they were calling “Ultimate Super StarKiller Murderbase IV.”

No.

Just stop it. Do you hear me? Stop. It’s time we admit that he First Order, a supposed edification of the Galactic Empire, has problems we can’t Death Star our way out of.

This one is going to be powered by black holes or something and will have a oh dear lord please stop....

This one is going to be powered by black holes or something and dark lord above, enough already….

Do you have any idea the sheer scale of our war-fighting resources directed toward increasing size and complexity high-visibility, concentrated-power destructive bases over the past decades? It’s in the quadrillions. Think of all the ships, troops, manufacturing capability, planning and doctrine we’ve slavishly dedicated to these single-use weapons, and what we have to show for it in return. The Rebellion/Resistance, continues to vaporize them with the banal ease of dispatching mynocks from a garage. Worse, because we have placed so much unearned confidence in these weapons as a panacea to achieving our military goals, we have compromised our ability to fight more traditional conflicts.

I ask you to consider how many Star Destroyers, divisions of At-At mobile assault forces, TIE fighters and Stormtrooper weapon training programs (blaster proficiency is at an all time low, even by Stormtrooper standards) do these bases represent? With the effort and treasure we have dedicated to these failed programs we could by now have blockaded every significant system in the galaxy with capable vessels. We could have bombarded and invaded their capitals at will, or simply bribed them into fealty to Supreme Leader Snoke, All Hail Him, without discharging a blaster. Yet still we continue to build toward this scarcely-utilized capability, throwing our entire organization behind one new giant laser after another while the rest of the force survives on bits and scraps.

To be frank, even if one of these behemoths ever wound up surviving its initial contact with Resistance forces (which one never has) as I have noted elsewhere, their military usefulness is negligible. When one destroys a planet you are denied the entire resource capability of that world forever. Space is big, the number of habitable planets is finite. We just can’t go blowing up the ones with a population we find disagreeable at a particular moment. Despite the political and PR fallout, just from a practical standpoint we would find ourselves running short on the very thing we want to control in the first place, the very building block of a galactic empire: planets. Alderan, for instance, was a pretty nice place. My grandparents kept a villa there and had raised prized dewbacks for generations. Now it’s space rubble. Good luck planting the First Order flag there.

The whole Death Star/Planet Killer concept is vapid. They are ineffective against fleets and smaller on-planet targets such as population centers or military installations. Due to the engineering necessity of large, open spaces at their cores for sufficient venting or to have (as in the case of Starkiller Base), undefended oscillators on their surfaces, they are astonishingly vulnerable to swarms of small, fast, lightly-armed attack vessels. These so-called “super weapons” are instead single-use set pieces, good only for visually displaying just the kind of raw power the First Order stands for, but in practical use they are about as reliable as as fourth-hand droid at a Jawa market.

After a few Antakarian Fire Dancers at any rank-and-file Imperial officers club, when the topic of “Why does the Rebellion keep kicking our asses?” comes up, the first and typically loudest response is some version of the old saw, “Darth Vader’s Son used The Force on us! How are we supposed to defend against that?” The reality, however, comes from the softer, often unspoken voices at the periphery who know that only the first of the successful attacks on our “indestructible” bases were assisted by mystical intervention. At the Battle of Yavin, arguably  the best constructed of the battle stations, The Force was indeed an appreciable factor in its destruction. The others were lost to our own shortsightedness by failing to predict well-established Rebel attack strategy.

I put forth the following argument, at risk of my First Order career and, I realize, my very life at the hands of an enraged Sith, but the values for which we stand transcend my personal concerns. Thus I find myself in the uncomfortable position of speaking aloud what has been whispered in dark corners for too long, and I dearly hope others will openly join me in this realization:

Death Stars are far more useful to the Resistance than they could ever be to us.

When the Rebellion/Resistance finds themselves facing a Death Star-type system they inevitably win both the battle and, on the greater stage, the war. The reason is the same in both cases: Death Star Doctrine warfare plays exclusively to their strengths. Over and over we build massive, slow-moving, highly visible, yet fundamentally indefensible bases. The Rebels/Resistance deploy motley collections of whatever ships and crews they have at hand, making desperate, heroic squadron-based raids one of which inevitably punches through. It’s the same as throwing pebbles at a Wookie skull. Toss enough and one will inevitably land in an eye socket, it’s just simple statistics.

Also they keep getting their hands on the plans. We need to do something about that too.

Also they keep getting their hands on the plans. We need to do something about that too.

Following their victory all credit is given to adherence to “The Light Side” of The Force stoking the superstitions of the Galactic populace from whom they receive financing, support, morale, recruiting and perceived initiative. All they need to do is repeat this cycle every few years or so to keep up the appearances of a viable fighting force.

But stepping back to an orbital view we see the Rebellion and their forebears in the Resistance have only ever had one base with a handful of leaders. Even when Hoth proved conventional, well-led attacks of specialized troops easily sweep their forces aside, we ignore this victory and inexplicably continue to pursue the untenable solution of Death Stars.  Are the vendor relationships within our organization so powerful we will allow them to lead us to defeat after defeat for a few plumbing and thermal-shielding contracts?

The First Order is about removing disorder and restoring stability to ensure progress. I understand why, in the light of our core principles, something like a Death Star/Starkiller seems like a seductive solution. Simply excise the disorder from the galaxy with a single, quite frankly thrilling, giant beam and no more messy impediments to our decretion. But the practical execution of this concept has led us down the path of fatal single-mindedness. Disorder is our enemy, yes, but disorder is the engine of novelty which can be turned against us if we continue to pursue a single course rather than a diverse, calculated military strategy to defeat the Resistance once and for all.

I beg you to consider my plea to divert from this course and shutter the Death Star/Starkiller programs for good.

Yours, Obediently,

Lt. Commander M. Wenchel Gendar

Director

Moff Tarkin School for Strategic Studies

First Order Academy of the Outer Rim

 

Away in a Manger: My Life as Livestock

There are plenty of reasons to love the holidays—even for people like me without children in their homes or Christ in their hearts. The carols and the twinkling lights are obvious charms. So too is the scent of evergreen and wood smoke. Subtler but equally potent is the way holiday advertisements persuade me of my generosity. According to the moral calculus of Target and Best Buy, all I must do is lavish gifts on my materially comfortable friends and family, and I’m excused for the past fifty weeks of being a garden-variety asshole.

But more than anything, I love the holiday season because it’s the one month when my year-round eating habits suddenly seem normal. At Christmas dinner, nobody bats an eye as I politely exchange my china for a wooden cutting board—then methodically erect three edible tiers. Using rolls and biscuits as cobbles, I first lay a sturdy carbohydrate foundation. Next, I spoon the casseroles and potatoes into a sort of quivering, cream-based mortar. Then on top I carefully assemble a flavorful façade of meats—which, at any holiday meal in my native South, will include roast beef and turkey, as well as ham studded with cloves and salted with the tears of Gwyneth Paltrow.

For me, a holiday meal is not so different from an average Tuesday night in April. The fare may be simpler and less butter-laden—salmon over rice, let’s say—but the result is the same, calorically-speaking. Because when I say “salmon,” I mean “a salmon”—or, at least, as much of the slippery devil as I can wrestle onto the top rack of my oven. True, I may steer clear of the eyeballs and fins, but otherwise I go after sockeye like a hibernation-wasted Kodiak bear.

Bear

In my household, I do the grocery shopping and cooking. It’s good exercise to crisscross Market Basket with racks of beef ribs and a burlap sack of potatoes slung over my shoulders. Moreover, it would be cruel to force my wife to handle so much food that she will never eat—and unfair to encumber her with the ceaseless task of keeping my stomach topped off.  When, as is often the case, hunger pangs awaken me at 3 AM, I only have myself to blame.  That’s what I get for not capping the evening with a glass of warm milk and a large pizza from Mike’s.

My wife knows that, when it comes to food, she has only one responsibility, which is to keep her hands and arms away from the chipper-shredder that is my mouth. The comparison is only a slight exaggeration. As an eater, I am not only immoderate, but also indiscriminate. When people tell me about their distaste for olives or their gluten sensitivity, I listen sympathetically—but with profound incomprehension. The notion of a meal “not sitting right” is, for me, a pure abstraction, like division by zero or leftover bacon.

Dining outside my own kitchen, I always feel a certain anxiety about getting enough to eat.  After all, at dinner parties it’s stressful to excuse myself, when everyone else is chatting over half-eaten pie, and go rummaging for more calories. I generally have a pretty good nose for the whereabouts of the hosts’ pantry. But it’s sometimes hard to judge—in the heat of the moment—which snack foods their children are least likely to miss.

At restaurants, especially fancy ones, things can get awkward.  A recent exchange went like this:

Waif-like server with sleeve tattoo: “Finished with this, sir?”

Me (looking down at a bay leaf and a cleanly gnawed bone): “Yes. I’ll have another.”

Server: “Another merlot, sir?”

Me (avoiding my wife’s imploring eyes): “No. Another dish, please.”

Server (smiling and searching my face to confirm the mischief): …

Me: “Another lamb shank.”

Server: “Oh.” (Pause.) “Yes, I can box up another to go.”

Me: “No, I mean to eat. Like, now.”

Wife (helpful and considerate, as ever): “Or, you know, whenever it’s ready.”

Server (dazed, recalibrating, ashamed for me): “Yes. Okay.”

Me: “Thanks for understanding. It’s a problem I have.”

Server (slinking away): “Mm hmm…”

Me: “Miss?”

Server: “Yes?”

Me: “Another merlot as well.”

At this point, I suspect you are picturing me as a large man—or perhaps some mythological hybrid with a chambered stomach. So I feel compelled to state that I am, in fact, 5-foot-8 and decidedly stringy. You can go ahead and carry on about how lucky I am to eat what I want and get away with it. I won’t protest. But let me remind you that the calorie is a unit of thermal energy—and the laws of chemistry cannot be escaped. So you might, more accurately, picture me as one of those old-timey, coal-fired boilers. But since I’m not attached to a steam locomotive, all my heat must be dissipated through my pores.

I didn’t fully appreciate just how sweaty I am until a few summers ago, while vacationing with my extended family near Cancun. Our resort offered a variety of amenities, including six pools and one cramped gym. Inexplicably, it was the only place on the grounds that lacked air conditioning, and its ceiling was scarcely tall enough to accommodate a hoisted dumbbell. On my first visit, I hopped on a stationary bike and commenced to ride with my usual gusto. With my headphones on and engrossed in a trashy telenovela, I was at first oblivious to what was unfolding. My aerobic output—stoked by the resort’s all-you-can eat buffets—had combined with the gym’s jungly heat to generate the perfect metabolic storm.  Eventually, I became aware of some commotion behind me. I turned to find two hunched maintenance workers squeegeeing sheets of my perspiration toward a drain hole in the corner of the rubber floor. Ever mindful of guest safety, they had placed yellow cones along the perimeter. Piso mojado, they read—which, I think, translates to “sweat gully.”

H_2838_MWhen I returned to the gym two days and many churros later, the gym attendants recognized me immediately. One wide-eyed woman hissed over her shoulder, “Mira! Look!” Her colleague wheeled and, perhaps dubious of American bilingual education, muttered a string of epithets that could have served as a vocabulary unit titled, “Odors of the Barnyard.”

One reason I moved from the South to New England was that I was tired of being el cerdo, the pig, for nine months of the year. Here in Gloucester, I can usually count on bitterly cold winters to provide a respite—or at least an excuse to layer over the dark stains that bloom across my chest and back. Normally, after Christmas dinner, I like to slip out the back door, open my jacket, and let the steam rise off me like a piping soufflé. But this year I’m headed back South, and word is they’re calling for record heat. Who knows: maybe this will be the year I find religion once again. If there’s any truth to those carols—“Away in a Manger” and all the rest—the Baby Jesus was never too good to consort with the likes of me.