Tag Archives: The Boston Globe

Never too old to rock ‘n roll

Rose is Rose is a comic strip that appears in The Boston Globe. Rose is a wife, a mother, and a cat owner, with the attendant husband, child and cat. She also has an alter ego, a kick-ass, rock ‘n roll-biker chick named Vicki. Rose spends a lot of time revisiting her youth, sometimes going all the way back to when she was a little girl, too young to ride a bike much less a motorcycle. In this representative strip, we see her as both little girl and biker chick. I love Rose, especially when she’s channeling Vicki.

Vicki embodies all the feelings Rose keeps tucked away inside because she never was a kick-ass, rock ‘n roll-biker chick. I, on other hand, saw myself as Vicki-like when I was young. To be fair, I never actually kicked anyone’s ass and the biggest motorcycle I ever drove was a 125cc Honda, but still, Vicki and the younger version of me have more in common than Vicki and Rose ever did.

Even as I phased out the physical trappings of edgy I remained stubbornly nostalgic for it all. When I got married, to a manifestly non-kick ass, non-rock ‘n roll, non-biker guy, my friend, Mary, gave me a card with a picture of a bride wearing a leather jacket and cowboy boots. I will never forget how grateful I felt to have her honor that part of me at that particular crossroad in my life.

I continue to regard my younger self fondly, with all her rough edges. If I had my life to live over again, I might not change anything. After all, if a butterfly can cause a tsunami, one small deviation might change the entire course of my life! I couldn’t risk that, not when I managed to end up with the world’s best husband and most marvelous daughter. And while my life is nothing like I pictured it would be when I was younger, it is a pretty darn good life. Still, when I see Vicki in Rose is Rose…

Recently, I had the opportunity to step back in time for an evening, to a charity event for Right Turn, “a creative place for recovery.” The event was at Royale in Boston and featured a bunch of local bands from back in the day. I went with my friend, Susan, who I’ve known since we were both in college and working at the Strawberries record store in Harvard Square with Carter Alan, then an aspiring DJ. Carter, currently heard on WZLX, introduced Jon Butcher promptly at 6:45pm.

me and susan at channel

What followed represented a cross-section of Boston rock and roll from the 80s, from new wave darlings, Robin Lane and the Chartbusters, to everyone’s favorite bar band, The Stompers. The Fools and Lizzie Borden and the Axes played, as did Charlie Farren. Even New England came back together for a set. I said hello to Johnny A., but missed the blues he served up later in the evening because by 10:30pm, I was ready to go. My 7:45am appointment with the endodontist the next morning was a handy excuse, but the truth is, I was wiped. I know I will never be too old for rock and roll—as long as I can be in bed by 11. 

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Fact or Fictionary?

The Boston Globe reported that the rules for the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee are changing. Starting this year, contestants will not only have to spell words, they’ll also have to take a multiple choice vocabulary test. As reported, the sample provided by the Spelling Bee was:

“Something described as refulgent is: a) tending to move toward one point, b) demanding immediate action, c) rising from an inferior state, d) giving out a bright light.”

Much to my surprise, I knew the answer! Not because I’m well-read and had a good liberal arts education, no. I owe my fleeting sense of erudition to Fictionary, a game for everyone who cringes when someone suggests charades.

The rules are simple. You take turns flipping through a dictionary to choose a word that you are fairly certain none of the other players will know. (If you are playing with my friend Josiah, this part of the game can take a while because he knows a lot of words.) When you find one that will challenge the vocabulary of the other players, you copy down the real definition while everyone else writes down a mock one. Then you read all the definitions out loud and people vote for the one they think is right. When someone votes for a fake definition, the author gets a point.

In order to make a definition more convincing, players will try to mimic the style of the dictionary resulting in definitions that start, “Of, or pertaining to…” and may include phrases like “commonly found in” or “as of.” I have a hard time keeping a straight face when it’s my turn to read the definitions, sometimes I get downright hysterical.

During the game where I learned the meaning of refulgent, I was also introduced to the word jerboa, a small rodent that jumps. Strangely, that word is missing from the 1994 Merriam-Webster that I keep on my desk, so to verify that I remembered correctly I had to consult dictionary.com, which says that a jerboa is “any of various mouse-like rodents of North Africa and Asia, as of the genera Jaculus and Dipus, with long hind legs used for jumping.” That would make a great Fictionary definition if it weren’t true.

I don’t know why anyone would choose to play charades if there’s a dictionary handy. I’ve played with kids as young as ten and for some reason they make surprisingly good competitors. And they’re as likely to vote for the real definition as anyone. Try it yourself. What did you choose as the correct definition for refulgent? If you don’t know, grab a dictionary and find out. I’m not telling you the answer. I want to feel like a winner for just a little while longer.