short stories, Uncategorized, Verse

A short and bittersweet jar o’jam…

Life, as defined by Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter

Facebook is for the Family Man… or Woman. Sorry, ladies. “Family Man” is an age-old expression that just sounds better than “Family Woman.” Yet, I assure you. You come first in every other aspect of my life.

LinkedIn, indifferent to personal conquests, chronicles the scope of someone’s professional career. Think of Résumé 2.0.

Twitter is where I want to be. It wears down an identity against the whetstone cacophony of tweets, some good, some bad, but mostly forgettable fireflies.

Fireflies, a.k.a. lightning bugs, are Mark Twain’s metaphor for the uniquely human expression of verbal and written language.

The Great American Author once said, “The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

Most tweets extract the everyday molasses of non-happening that fill our incongruous expanse of time.

Wading through that gooey minutia, sometimes we trap the elusive lightning in opportune bottles, before the fleeting, syrup-sweetening instances fizzle into the ether.

Our Mason jar memories capture those chance occurrences—some would call serendipitous occasions, those with faith might say “divine interventions”—that crystallize the stories articulating our lives. In short, an…


short stories

See previous tweet…

Someone suddenly appeared at his doorstep. He never in fact saw this someone, just heard heavy footsteps creaking the weathered slats of his front porch. Perhaps a psychic, or maybe even a time traveler (if that’s possible), rapped on the large brass hanger that hung eye level on the monolithic frontdoor of his childhood home. The stranger left only a single business card, before disappearing as mysteriously as he had arrived. The boy of 12 slowly opened the door. Its hinges squeaked. And there, on the rough welcome mat, a tiny, neatly printed note.

The rather plain looking 2-inch by 3.5-inch piece of paper read:

Top tweets from

Both hands clutched #burrito, while he spoke into #earbuds. He refused to let a phone #convo impede talking with a full mouth @bolococommons
@TeamCoco Boston is the Wolverine of American cities.”
@TheOnion In Focus: NBA Arrested For Marijuana Possession
@natedog4th That pie’s gotta be cold by now!

The year: 1994. In the very first line, “” resembled something he had seen on this brand new computer reality called “The Internet.” Yet he could not comprehend why his name appeared before the “DOT com.” The 12-year-old imagination ran wild on fresh Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episodes and an uncomplicated opinion of the opposite sex, igniting elaborately impossible scenarios. In 1994, these were perfectly viable universes.

The 12-year-old intellect then attempted an extrapolation of “@bolococommons.”

“Where is bolo- bolo- bolocommons?” he said. “Boloco Commons? Boloco on the Commons.” The imagination took it one step too far. “Boston Local Commons,” the 12-year-old said. “Oh, so they change Boston Common to ‘The Local Boston Commons.'” The odorless scent of humor wafted his 12-year-old nose.

He knew who Wolverine was. The early-’90s 12-year-old logged some serious hours watching Marvel’s animated X-Men TV show.

@TeamCoco needed some explaining. @ConanOBrien was barely causing ripples in the toilet, let alone lighting up the Nielson ratings, in 1994. And it would be a decade and a half before @tomhanks coined Conan as Coco.

He believed that the entire NBA had been arrested for marijuana possession, which was devastating. He was really into basketball that year. The 1980s-born @celtics dynasty had fallen, but the Chicago Bulls were about to conclude the athletic trilogy of a 3-peat. @Jumpman23 believed he could fly.

He read the last tweet.

He wondered, “Who was @natedog4th?”

Or was it Nate Dog IV? And why did he care how cold the pie was? If only, he could see the previous tweet.

Also, What is a tweet? he thought.


Surfing the Twittersphere

I once heard of this guy who’d wait till like 1 a.m. on a weekend and then run searches for #TacoBell. He’d retweet everyone that had just ordered the fastfood Tex-Mex and were now proliferating the Twitter-sphere with their 140-character puke stories.

What a nose for news, I thought… and spews.

This social media guru had dropped into the zeitgeist wave of those who chose to dine poorly. And I wondered: what other swells of the collective unconscious were cresting out there, just waiting for the listening surfer to ride?

Ninety-nine percent of twitter consists of soliloquy, substance, and nonsense.”

Like any good businessman, I had already developed a “bulletproof” marketing scheme for my Twitter handle, @DelODell. The idea came from watching an episode of MTV’s Rob & Big, starring skateboard legend and “relentless” entrepreneur @robdyrdek and Christopher @BigBlack Boykin. Ever the opportunist, Dyrdek was tagging prominently public landmarks and road signs up and down the LA streets, with customized bumper stickers that brandished his logo. He called the grassroots promotional tactic guerrilla marketing.

It would cost about $3 a pop to print my Twitter handle on each bumper sticker. So I settled for a screenprinted hooded sweatshirt that ran side-to-side in the front and up-and-down on the back: @DELODELL. If politicians on the campaign trail could kiss babies, I could get out to the public in person and rally some followers.

Next I would need to establish a unique identity. That meant not tweeting the normal bullshit. Now I’m no mathematician, but it seemed that 99 percent of Twitter consisted of soliloquy, substance, and nonsense. I would need to identify these unspoken rules of the popular social medium in order to eventually break them.


Soliloquy are those self-realizing statements people publish to sound profound or, at the very least, observant.
“What’s the deal with… ”

“I hate when… ” or
“[This just happened.]”

Comic @robdelaney has mastered the shocking side of soliloquy:


You’ll see substantitive tweets on any website that outputs high volumes of content. News sites are good examples: @nytimes; @NESN; or for fake news, @TheOnion. All good. Their tweets are designed to route followers back to the website, where readers can digest content the news site is broadcasting over channel Twitter. I say substance because the tweet merely acts as a beacon harking back to a more substantial media: a video, a news story, some byte-sized bit of information that’s useful. The text of a tweet itself can be substantial, if it’s something like advice from a reliable source or it just plain makes sense and you benefit from it.

I say you benefit from it because everything’s relative. And that’s why I think many tweets to many people are substantial, making Twitter the half-billion strong powerhouse that it is today.


The rest of Twitter is primarily just nonsense. People who haven’t quite figured out the #hashtag. Angry, biggotted or trolling rants by people letting their emotions do the typing, rather than common sense and decency. Generally, just noise. If Twitter was a radio, nonsensical tweets would be the static in between stations.

I had tweeted my fair share of the 99 percent.

The soliloquy…

The substance…

And the nonsense…

These tweets were the 99 percent and I strove for the one. In fact, these tweets were the wave that I wished to ride. To surf the Twittersphere, I’d need to separate myself from this vast ocean of social information and stand upright, distinctly, carving a new path in my Twitter handle’s wake.

Next time I see a wave, I’ll drop in.

Top 10 Lists

Fun with Twitter

I have a thought, an inspiring idea, and I need other people to read it. If I can articulate the notion in 140 characters or less, then my medium will be Twitter.

The original purpose of Twitter—a microblogging cacaphony of 340 million daily updates with more than 500 million registered users as of 2012—was to allow an SMS (or Short Message Service) user to communicate with a small group. With over a half billion registered accounts across the globe, this brings new meaning to the term “small world,” I suppose.

Twitter is what you make of it.

When I first joined, back in 2008, I didn’t initially follow anybody. I felt like a person alone in a silent room, but then I began to invite people in. And suddenly the room became interesting. Friends began to join and the aspect of conversation entered the mix. Up to that point, I had been tweeting celebrities, but it felt like I was talking to myself.

Now, in 2013, the limits of this heightened online mode of communication seem endless. I now give you seven ways to capitalize on Twitter.

1. Twitter got me a job.

This was a life-changing tweet. The instant nature of Twitter allowed me to respond to the job inquiry within minutes of its posting. And, luckily, my website has a short URL (but then again any URL is short with abbreviating alias websites like Read more about this fateful Internet exchange at Occupy Peace of Mind.

2. Hashtags connect people

In the article Beer Die across the nation, we see this phenomenon unfold. I tweeted in conversation with a friend and @juaners80 chimed in.

Juan Rodriquez hailed from Corpus Christi, Texas; without Twitter, we never would have met or exchanged our ideas on the drinking sport known as Beer Die.

3. Conducted and instantly transcribed an interview

Along the vein of this mysterious drinking sport known only as Beer Die, I conducted an interview remotely with the 2009 champion of Brownie’s Beer Die Open.

The whole thing took about 15 minutes.

4. Challenged my parking rights

5. The @TownOfBrookline kept me on top of the Great Blizzard of ’13

These last two Twitter entries illustrate essentially what this entire blog post is about: Twitter is instant content for your blog.

6. Became a comedian for an hour or so

Comic Hannibal Buress tweeted this:

This gem inspired me to write Almost Funny, a crash course in comedy that flashed in the pan, but was fun while it lasted.

7. Late Night Inspiration

When Conan O’Brien completed his “The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour in mid-2010, he had time for reflection.

As the lanky, late-night locutor looked inward, I decided to capitalize on this rare opportunity. From his two tweets, I drafted the Top 10 Things I’d Ask Conan O’Brien en rout to TBS.

Uncategorized, Verse

“No thank you. I don’t Facebook. I’m on the patch.”

Here’s the problem with Facebook: it’s an opiate of the people. It’s working its tendrils into every sector of the Web and, when it inevitably collapses, all of those sites whose sustenance were entirely dependent on the lifeblood delivered to them from the decaying Facebook circulatory system, will die. And Facebook is setting up shop at every Mom & Pop site through a harmless sounding enough (in actuality) Trojan Horse. They call it “Open Graph.” Without getting into too much techno babble (of which I know little), let me just illustrate this supposed beneficial societal concept…

Facebook vs. Twitter

People sometimes ask me What’s the difference between Twitter and Facebook? I often lose them about 30 seconds into my failed attempt at describing the similarities between Facebook’s News Feed and Twitter’s entire platform. Guess which one came first. Anyway, I’m developing a webpage for a local charity (Deb & Jackie’s Jolly Jump). The page contains multiple profiles of some of the JJ’s jumpers. If people like what they see/read, I want them to be able to share it. When I went to the Twitter Developer website, I simply generated, copied and pasted the necessary code within five minutes. I then strew the two or so customizable lines throughout my page’s code. Now people can personally tweet out their favorite jumpers. Period.

When I wanted to allow similar functionality for exclusively Facebook users, they first wanted me to develop a Facebook app. Then, they wanted me to insert “Open Graph” code into the core of the webpage. This code, mind you, has changed several times since its initial inception. Code that’s likely to change again. So even if I had figured this “Open Graph” out, I’m sure I would have had to change it within six months. Nothing like tampering with fairly sensitive areas of your website on a regular basis. Not to mention, Facebook can siphon information from your Open Graphed site to feed its insatiable desire for information. About an hour into researching the dregs of specific Facebook code, I decided to throw in the towel and write this blog post instead.

If someone ever asks you What’s wrong with Facebook?, just point them to this story. And tell them it took me five minutes to do in Twitter what it took me over an hour to realize wouldn’t even be worth doing on Facebook.

If you agree, just click the share button below and send to…  [sigh]  Facebook.

Uncategorized, Verse

Occupy Peace of Mind

The tweet that changed my life

The 140 characters that launched my career.

Say what you will about the Occupy Wallstreeters. The fact remains, they were there, on Zuccotti Park, occupying Wall Street, in New York City for a time. They may not have been focused in their demands or hygienic under their armpits, but they made their presence known (in all its olfactory splendor). It’s easy to look down one’s nose at this ragged rabble, when one has a job or at least somehow secured a flow of income. Yet when one is desperate, despondent, unable to support the very basic needs all people deserve as inalienable rights–food, shelter, a purpose, frankly–it’s hard to dismiss these financial district freeloaders. And it reminds me of the time not too long ago, when I was unemployed. If I didn’t have a job right now as I type this message, I can’t help but think I would have hitched my tent to this stationary movement. But the fact of the matter is that I do have a job. This is the story of how I got there.

It was May of 2009, I had just received a master’s in print and multimedia journalism from Emerson College in Boston. I was reluctant to embark on the job search (one of the last stories I had written for my classes addressed a 7.4-percent national unemployment rate, which, if anything, has gotten worse since then). So I went on a road trip for three weeks, out to L.A., to clear my head and perhaps formulate a plan of attack. Upon return, I hadn’t given a job much thought, but I was equipped with a master’s degree and some previous (albeit irrelevant) office work experience. Enough right? Here I cannot stress the importance of who you know. For, as it turned out, the vast majority of employers did not care or understand what I knew, evidenced by the sheer lack of response or acknowledgment of my existence as I scattered hundreds of resumes into the ether of the Internet, with no hope of reciprocation. They say many people go to Harvard University, not for the education, but for the connections. Well, Emerson seemed to work this way too as I found myself calling the one contact I had at the Boston Herald via a connection forged within the Emerson master’s program.

So, at 27, with a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and three years of work experience under my belt, I was able to secure 15 hours a week covering high school sports for a Boston newspaper. No one could deny the prominence of the Boston Herald, but 15 hours per week at a meager stipend of $13/hr would not pay the bills. I had to move home. With some residual loans from undergrad and a brand new heap of grad loans, I was close to $80,000 in the hole and making the salary of a part-time pizza delivery boy. In 2009, upon the height of my education, I had hit financial rock bottom.

I remember my day-to-day during this sobering point of reflection. I’d roll out of bed around 11 a.m. and make a small breakfast of toast or something else light to save room for lunch, which was right around the corner. I’d deliberately NOT turn on the TV. That was a procrastinator’s worst enemy, an attention deficit factory, that I could not endure while trying to keep focus on the almighty full-time gig, the bandaged pressure on a hemorrhaging bank account, the ticket out of my childhood bed and into adulthood. Instead, I’d force myself to get ready, though I had nowhere to go. I’d shower and shave and brush my teeth. I’d get dressed and sling my messenger bag over my shoulder that held a $300 netbook I had bought with my last cent. And I’d walk, in the middle of the day, to the town center, where a turkey club and hot chicken noodle soup from Barry’s Deli would warm me up. I’d continue to the Coffee Break Cafe up the street and assemble my makeshift workstation within the little shop to scour job listings, as the aroma of a steaming cup of coffee percolated my will to fill online applications.

Days like this went on for about a year. In that time, I had many tests of faith. Faith in myself. Faith in society. I’ll admit: a life of crime had even crossed my mind on more than one occasion. The overwhelming uncertainty of employment had me certain I would never find work. And so, I know where the #OWS movement is coming from. I have been where these people are now. Abandoned. At a loss. Forgotten. Failing. For these reasons, I see their plight. Yet I can no longer commiserate with the 99 Percent. I have a job. It happened like this…

A series of events leads to more experience that builds upon my existing skill set

Pulling together any scrap of expertise I could get my hands on, I chronicled the breadth of my experience, thus far, on an online portfolio (luckily, I knew a web designer, also fresh out of school and who output a good product for cheap for the experience). I filled it with published Boston Herald clips and stories from Emerson classwork and internships. And within several months, a curriculum vitae (CV) in such a viable and succinct format had catapulted me to the assistant webmaster position for a prominent website.

After two years of virtually no leads, it happened that quickly. I’ll never forget that day…

It was a typical humid and hazy Boston day, in late August 2010. Someone I followed on Twitter tweeted the opening to a fairly popular website. The job description detailed a skill set that matched my expertise. So, without hesitating, I replied to those fateful 140 characters, including the short link to my e-portfolio. I was emailing my would-be boss within hours and secured an interview that very same day. Inside of a week, I secured that gig, which still did not pay a lot, but it provided the almighty experience and expanded knowledge of my craft.

As my mind and CV continued to grow within the hallowed walls of that Web institution, I had more to offer, thus more options to entertain. And finally, at the then apex of my career, I landed a full-time job. The hiring manager said she liked how I had garnered such a diversity of experience. That may have been what won me the job, in fact.

Now I wouldn’t have gained that prominent experience, had I not designed the e-portfolio. And my e-portfolio would have been bunk, had I not acquired clips from the Boston Herald, along with several other internships. I couldn’t have reported for the Boston Herald or for those internships without my Emerson networking and education. I guess what I’m trying to say: Thank God I checked my Twitter feed on that humid August day.

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