Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What's Next? 'Holiday Candlesticks?'

There's been a bit of controversy here in Boston this week because city officials had the nerve — the sheer audacity — to call a giant tree erected on Boston Common a "holiday tree" instead of a "Christmas tree." Imagine that: government folks wanting to be fair to everyone. I mean, have you ever heard of anything so wrong?

But seriously ... In an interview with Fox Television (sigh), Reverend Jerry Fallwell said, "There's been a concerted effort to steal Christmas." And Donnie Hatt, the Canadian who grew the tree, told a Canadian newspaper that "If they decide it should be a holiday tree, I'll tell them to send it back. If it was a holiday tree, you might as well put it up at Easter."

Now, I might be Jewish, but I love Christmas as much as the next person (maybe you've heard me mention something about it). Still, despite being really bothered by both the tone and message of folks like Fallwell and Hatt, I have to say that I think on some level, they're right. Christmas is the only one of the December holidays that is associated with a tree. There's no reason for the city's tree to be inclusive of Hanukkah, for example. It's a misguided attempt to be P.C. and all-inclusive. I can see officials deciding next week to erect "holiday candlesticks" instead of a "menorah," and that would be totally wrong on so many levels.

The city should just call their tree a "Christmas tree," even if it has no religious decoration on it. (Most people will do so anyway.) I would bet that no Jewish person in Boston would ask for a representation of Hanukkah to be added to the tree. For the record, I'm not asking for either of these things, but if Mayor Menino and co. really wanted to be fair, they'd either not have a tree at all (which, of course, would never fly), or they'd also put up a similarly large menorah, and something representative of Kwanzaa and any other holidays, in the same place. And maybe in addition to tomorrow's tree lighting ceremony, they'd even have lighting ceremonies for all those other festive symbols (yes, one for every night of Hanukkah). My guess is City Councilor Mike Ross would support something like that. After all, as any smart politician should know, when it comes to religion and pleasing the public, it's all or nothing — and the general populace is too smart not to know what a "holiday tree" really is.

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If You've Got It, Flaunt It

The Good News? The Producers is great. Just like the show, it's funny, the songs are catchy and memorable, there's priceless chemistry between Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, and you want to leap to your feet with applause throughout.

The Bad News? Did I mention it's just like the show? More so than even the movie of Chicago was, The Producers is basically a filmed version of the show. It's like there was a camera on stage documenting the whole thing. There's no attempt to make it more real by filming in real locations (aside from some quick scenes in Central Park), and with many of the characters performing right to the audience/camera just as they would on stage, there is no pretense that it's anything more than a film of the show. It's just bigger (more dancers, larger sets, etc.).

So yeah, that's the mixed news. But I have to emphasize that while The Producers: the movie is almost exactly like The Producers: the show, it is a really well done filmed version. As I said, it's bigger in scope, really funny, and I was actually tempted to burst out in applause more than a few times. I mean, let's be honest: The Producers is a great show (it did win 11 Tony Awards, after all). And what's different about the movie version — some new jokes, Will Ferrell, fun cameos — is generally really enjoyable. (Then again, Uma Thurman is not so good. The first scene with Leo and Max goes on a bit too long. And by the way, what happened to the "King of Broadway" song?) I really enjoyed the movie, so I'll give The Producers a B+ and highly recommend it.

(And by the way, when you see the movie, make sure you stay all the way to the end, after the end credits.)


Monday, November 28, 2005

... So Falls Witchita Falls

It's entirely possible that I wasn't in a movie-going mood yesterday, but despite that, I went to see The Ice Harvest. I'm not sure exactly what the movie was about; it was something about stolen money and Christmas Eve. Oliver Platt was his usual boorish self, there wasn't enough Billy Bob Thornton, and nor was there enough nasty holiday humor. I was kind of under the assumption that the movie would be more along the lines of Bad Santa, though not so holiday-specific. Anyway, the film really didn't do anything for me. Still, I'm giving it a C-.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quote of the Day

"You always do that."
— a woman to her boyfriend at Shaw's, as he tried to put his credit card into the "Insert Cash Here" slot in the self-service check-out line

... it could also apply to me, since I always seem to end up behind stupid people like that, especially when the line is short and should move quickly (and of course, it never does).

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Where Are All You People?

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

Maybe I was smart this year, or maybe I just got lucky, but I hit zero traffic this weekend. None. Nada. Zip.

To wit:
* Driving down on Wednesday, I left Brookline around 9 a.m. I made two quick stops at Best Buy on the way (the one in Framingham was closed so I went to one somewhere right off of 84 in Connecticut), and made it to my parents' place at 12:30.

* That afternoon, we left the apartment at 2:30 and made it over the Throgs Neck Bridge and to Great Neck to meet my sister with no delay. There was also no traffic after the wedding at 1 a.m.

* Friday, en route back to Great Neck, we made it in about 50 minutes, normal time. Same with going home, give or take five minutes for a small backup.

* Last night, my dad and I decided to drive into the city around 4:30 rather than take the train, and it was also clear sailing, just as it was at 11 p.m. on the way home.

* And the best part of all, today I left White Plains at 10:45 a.m., 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and I was back in Brookline at 1:30. That's completely unheard of. On a typical Thanksgiving Sunday, it would have taken me more than four hours (closer to five) to make this trip. Today I did it in about 2:45. I sailed up the Merritt and Rte. 91, zipped through Hartford, had only a small backup at the toll booth in Sturbridge because some people still don't know which ones are the Fast Lane lanes, and cruised across the Mass Pike. I'm stunned — and perfectly relaxed.

So I ask: Are all you people stuck in traffic now as I'm writing this, or did more people fly than drive this year? Either way, I'm so happy to be back in Boston so early.

(P.S.: Good thing there was no traffic on the Pike today. I was listening to Green Day's new live CD, Bullet in a Bible. If ever there was a foot-on-the-gas, pound-the-steering-wheel, yell/scream/sing along CD, this is it.)


City on Fire

I attended the tale of Sweeney Todd Saturday night. Regular readers of this site may recall that I interviewed Michael Cerveris a few months back, but that was before the show had opened. (Actually, I spoke with him before he had even begun rehearsals.) So now that the show is a month into its run on Broadway, I figured it was a good time to get some tickets.

Sweeney Todd is one of my all-time favorite shows (it's up there with Rent, Chess and Into the Woods) partly because the first time I saw it, back when it was revived at the Circle in the Square theater in the late 1980s, it scared the bejesus out of me. (I was hearing the factory whistle for weeks.) No show had ever had a similar effect on me. Also, of course, it's because the show features some of Stephen Sondheim's best work ("Not While I'm Around," for example).

This new production is completely different from the earlier stagings. It all takes place in a mental institution, with the inmates acting out the story and playing the instruments too. There's no real set, just a large black coffin that is used as a prop, along with a ladder and some chairs. The cast wears variations on black and white — all the better to clash with the bold red color of the blood. And there's plenty of that too. I won't say exactly how the killings are represented, but it's not with a sliding barber chair; this new production leaves a lot to the imagination.

Some performances are better than others, and not surprisingly, Michael Cerveris is just awesome. He looks positively demonic, with pale white makeup covering his bald head, and he sings with a deep booming British accent that commands attention. You can't take your eyes off him. That is, whenever Patti LuPone isn't seeking the spotlight. With her awkward posing, too-tight clothing, and dead-on (pun intended) comic timing, not to mention her out-of-nowhere tuba playing, she's just classic. Also not surprising is the fact that the best scene in the whole show is "A Little Priest," the hysterical duet between Cerveris and LuPone that closes act one. You're looking at two of Broadway's best right there jousting for attention. It's really fun to watch.

Also worth noting is Manoel Felciano, who plays Tobias and alternates between psychotic looking inmate and youthful child throughout the show. He's the best of the supporting cast.

I know most of my readers don't live in New York, but if you should find yourself in the city and can appreciate (and afford) some theater, I highly recommend this revival. I don't think this Sweeney Todd is going to give me nightmares, but it will definitely live in my imagination for a long time to come.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Pilgrims Would Be Proud

I was going to make a list of all the things I'm thankful for today — the cake at Shaw's, Jennifer Garner (in spite of how much Alias sucks this year), my Bubby, Jamie Cullum's music, all the folks who read my blog regularly, etc. — but right now, the thing I'm most thankful for is Thanksgiving itself.

Because of my cousin's wedding last night (which was very nice, by the way, but a long and very late night — we got home at 2 a.m.), my mother essentially cancelled Thanksgiving this year. I was prepared to eat chicken, at home, with just my parents. (Hey, at least it was some form of bird.) But a Thanksgiving miracle has happened: at the last minute, we've accepted an invitation and now there will be turkey, gravy, good friends, and all the requisite side dishes. Thanksgiving is one of my top five days of the year (the others being, in no particular order: my birthday, Christmas, July 4 in Boston, and the first warm day of the year), and I always look forward to the spread. I'm really happy to be celebrating today and will be smothering my big plate of turkey in gravy accordingly.

And of course, as Mitzi knows only too well, the most wonderful time ... of the year officially begins tomorrow. I've got my "A Very Marty Xmas 2004" CD ready to go for my drive back to Boston on Sunday, and I'm excited to compile this year's mix over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more on that.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Number 1,200

Congrats to Dan Friedell, my 1,200th visitor (at least since I started counting on September 28). Did you know I was counting visitors? Well, I am. And it's been pretty exciting seeing the traffic that's been coming my way over the past three months that I've had this site.

So, good on you, Dan, for visiting today even though I didn't have much to say until now. In your honor, here's a link to your site, so now all my visitors can go to your site and drive up your traffic count. I hope you've got something new to say ...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Come Fly With Me

It's nice to be in New York today. Hell, it's nice to be anywhere today.

Because I had a Bar Mitzvah today and have a wedding Wednesday night, both in New York, I decided to fly home this weekend instead of drive. And because Jet Blue was running a special on Boston to New York fares, I flew with them. In fact, Jet Blue is utilizing nice, brand new planes to go between Boston and New York.

So here's what happened to me: My flight was supposed to leave Boston at 8:35 p.m. Shortly after that time, we pulled away from the gate, and just as we started to accelerate on the runway, the pilot hit the brakes and stopped. Uh oh. "It seems we have a computer glitch and need to return to the gate," the pilot said. "Should only take about 20 minutes to fix this, so we should be able to be in the air not too long from now."

About a half hour later, we learned the problem wouldn't be fixed anytime soon and that we would have to change planes. So we all picked up our things and headed over to another gate and another plane. Because we had done whatever with our boarding passes, we had to show an ID and get checked off the manifest in order to be let on the new plane, and there was no semblance of order in getting people on, i.e.: how it usually is done, by row.

So now we're all set on the second plane, and it's more than an hour after we were supposed to have left. My parents, who were practically at the airport in New York to pick me up when I had called them from the first plane, tell me that they had called Jet Blue, and Jet Blue said the plane had taken off at 9:05.

We pull away from the gate, and as we're turning toward the runway, the pilot comes back on the intercomm: "Folks, you're not going to believe this. We have another computer glitch." So we go back to the gate, but this time it's fixed pretty quickly. Just some quick paperwork to fill out before we can go, we're told. But we sit there. And sit there. And then we're told that two passengers, who were en route to Syracuse via JFK, will miss their connection so they need to get off the plane with all their stuff, and they'll be staying in Boston for the night.

Fifteen minutes or so later, we're still sitting there, and these two passengers come back on the plane. A little while later, three other passengers are asked to leave for an unspecified reason. (Oh, and did I mention yet that the much heralded DirectTV system is not yet working on this brand new plane? And did I mention that the guy next to me, who is a 24-year old medical student from Long Island who had been traveling around all week going on residency interviews, has been on and off and on the phone with his parents almost the entire time complaining about the situation? Perhaps it's also worth noting that Jet Blue does not have an inflight magazine, unlike some airlines.)

Finally, at around 11:30, we leave from the gate again. Third time's the charm, and as we leave the ground, the passengers all erupt in applause. About 45 minutes later, we land in New York to the sound of more applause and the news that we'll all be getting $50 vouchers for our troubles. And at about 1:30 a.m., my parents and I finally arrive home in White Plains. That's five hours after the plane was supposed to leave, and amazingly, six hours after I left my office to head to the airport. I could have driven home to New York and back to Boston in that time.

Yes, it could have been worse. But suffice it to say, Wednesday morning I'll be happy to be driving home for the wedding, even if it means I'll be stuck in traffic for part of the way. And Monday morning when I head back to the airport, I'm just hoping all the glitches have been fixed.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Opening Salvo

my friend todd has started a blog,
he's writing all in rhyme.
some people think that i slack off
but he clearly has more time.

if you want a laugh, go check him out
and see what the rhyme is all about.
but come back here when you've read his rap
'cause my friend todd is full of crap.

(hee hee hee hee hee)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

There's Always Tomorrow

I wanted to like Rent. I really did. I've seen the show three times (twice with the original cast — once in New York and once in London) and I really like the music. And yet the movie was such a disappointment for me. I mean, aside from the fact that it would have had more emotional impact if it was simply a concert film of the cast singing the songs. Rent the movie was a letdown and it really bummed me out.

Suffice it to say, what's good about the movie is good. The first half hour or so is almost great. I was sitting quite comfortably thinking that the movie wasn't going to be so bad after all. Overall, the cast is good, but Rosario Dawson's the best of the lot; her smile, her presence, her energy really carries a lot of the scenes she's in. And I thought "Rent," "Tango Maureen" and "La Vie Boheme" were well done. But that was about all.

Fine. The process of opening things up means, for example, that "Take Me or Leave Me" now takes place at a commitment ceremony for Maureen and Joanne, and that Mimi is singing "Out Tonight" while performing at the Cat Scratch club. Whatever. I bought into that stuff because, well, I had to. But the bigger problems are the conversion of sung dialogue to spoken dialogue (which is awkward when you're used to hearing the words uttered a certain way and also because, well, many of the lines rhyme) and the decision to actually end each song instead of letting them flow into the next. Such changes kill all the momentum that builds from song to song and scene to scene. As a result, the movie drags. A lot.

More significantly, about three quarters of the way in, two songs were cut. "Halloween" and the second half of "Goodbye Love" provide important emotional insight, particularly for the character of Mark Cohen. In fact, in cutting out most of Mark's narration over the course of the show, you miss out on his ironic role within this group of friends. He's the center, the soul of the show. And yet, all the action is happening around him, while he is detached from it all. He's not participating, he's observing. This is highlighted in the monologue song "Halloween," in which Mark sings, "Why am I the witness? And when I capture it on film, will it mean that it's the end and I'm alone?" That's no longer in the film, so you lose the whole angle that while other folks are dealing with loss and disease, Mark might be the most in pain because he is flying solo while so much is happening to his friends. (The song and the full "Goodbye Love" are both on the soundtrack, so I assume it was a late decision to cut them. Maybe a longer version of the film will be on the eventual DVD). Eliminating so much of the Mark-centered stuff was perhaps the biggest crime for me.

One fault of the show already is that a lot of time passes over the course of the second act, so when you cut out these two songs, which contain so much emotion and anger, their exclusion makes what follows have little to no weight. (On the other hand, I didn't want the movie to be any longer.) The movie goes from Angel's funeral right into "What You Own," and you lose the fact that Roger is abandoning Mimi when she needs him most, the fact that she's going into rehab on Benny's dime, and that Mark and Roger don't part amicably when Roger leaves for Santa Fe. It also means Mark and Roger are singing (mostly off-screen) to nobody at all, and all of a sudden Roger is in the desert singing his heart out — and you have to laugh because he just looks ridiculous. And that is the film's ultimate undoing; you've been taken out of the movie and you're no longer with the characters, invested in their plight. The rest is just pointless from there on out.

The cast tries really hard, of course, since they've spent so much time with their roles and the show itself. But, for example, Jesse L. Martin's performance of "I'll Cover You (reprise)" loses a bit when he's not singing it live right in front of you. And "La Vie Boheme" is good and all, but when it's not live, you miss a lot of the inherent energy of the song.

Let's face it, this review isn't going to sway you one way or the other if you were or weren't already going to see Rent. If you were going to see it, I'll say enjoy what you can. And if you weren't, well, you still shouldn't bother. I'm giving Rent a heartbreaking C.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Luck Be a Lady

Mitzi, Jason and I met up at Mohegan Sun yesterday. I had never been, and have to say, it's much nicer than Foxwoods — and much easier to get to (down the Mass Pike to exit 10, then route 395 all the way there. The whole trip took me under an hour and a half door-to-door). But I have to say, the best part of Mohegan Sun (other than the hot Krispy Kreme donuts right near the Summer garage where I parked) was that I left there a winner. And how.

After two sessions at the blackjack table, I walked away with more than three times what I had bet. And sure, I had only changed $40 to chips, but winning an additional $130 ain't bad for an afternoon. (For the record, Jason won closer to $600 and Mitzi was a winner too.)

To what do I attribute my good luck? Was it my sister's handy "cheat sheet"? No. Was it smarter playing by me? Not at all. (In fact, not even close.) It was Tara Reid. Yes, Tara Reid.

About 30 minutes after sitting down to play, soon after dealer Jack changed to dealer Marcus, an attractive blonde (and some guy with her) sat right down next to me. I did a double take, and without being too obvious about it, I tried to figure out if she was who I thought she was. A couple of hands later, as her luck ran opposite to mine and she got up from the table, I was able to get a better look. Sure enough, that was Tara Reid.

We think. My sister and I were only about 90% sure, despite repeated glances in her direction. I mean, what would Tara Reid be doing at a $10 blackjack table in the non-smoking section of a casino in Uncasville, Connecticut on a beautiful Sunday afternoon when she's more prone to drunken exploits and other wild partying, as seen on her E! Entertainment television show Taradise? And what was with that ring on her finger? She's not engaged, is she? And is she really that tall? (She appeared to be maybe 5'7 or 5'8, but I was sitting down.) And isn't her voice a little bit huskier?

Then again, the more and more we looked at Tara over at another blackjack table — without staring for too long — we were sure that that was who it was. And we gave her a lot of looks. (No, of course I didn't talk to her.) How were we able to look at her so many times? Well, because she sat with her fiancée/boyfriend for, like, two hours! The Tara Reid I know (you know what I mean) wouldn't be that patient. And another thing: Tara Reid doesn't dress that nicely. But she is that good looking. And this woman was hot. She really did look a lot like Tara Reid.

Fine, it may not have really been her. But whoever she was, she sure did bring me good luck. So you'll forgive me if I keep telling this story for the next few days and weeks as if it was actually her, right?

Old Friends

It was really good to see my former college roommate Seth on Saturday. He was in town for a conference, and we met up for dinner Saturday night. Over some BBQ at the Village Smokehouse — yum — we made up for lost time, since we'd only been in touch intermittently over the last nine years. It's always great to hang out with old friends and have it be like not a day has gone by. It felt that way with Seth, laughing about people we used to know, reminiscing about psycho ex-girlfriends (actually, just mine), good times, and catching up on our lives now. We've both changed a lot since graduation, but in some key ways, we're both exactly the same. And that's a real comfort to know. I hope we'll stay in better touch from now on.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Some miscellaneous things that are on my mind today:

Sorry, neighbors: I hit snooze for a solid hour and a half this morning. That, after waking up in the middle of the night and sleeping on my couch for what must have been four hours. When the radio went off at 6:15, blaring from my bedroom, I darted off the couch, ran to go shut it off ... and then proceeded to fall right back asleep.

Bagel basics: I've long thought that only Jewish people should work at bagel places. Before anyone gets all uppity that this is some sort of racist, reverse anti-Semitism thing, hear me out: When was the last time you had a good sandwich at Finagle-a-Bagel? Really. A good, well-made sandwich, where the ingredients weren't just slapped together (in excess) and the bagel wasn't burnt, etc. Too often, I feel like bagel sandwiches — whether they're with cream cheese or turkey or whatever — are put through like some disorganized assembly line and made without much care for their quality. I take my bagels seriously (despite the fact that I still go to Bruegger's regularly). Jewish people know from bagels. If Jews were making the bagel sandwiches at Finagle, they wouldn't screw them up. Go to any bagel place in Florida. You'll see.

This could have been worse: Nicole Richie was on the Today show this morning. At the risk of sounding like an old man triple my age, what a well-spoken young lady she was. Who knew?! Apparently she has a book out that's "a novel a novel a novel a novel a novel a novel" — it's repeated six times on the cover to underline and highlight the fact that even though characters closely resemble former aquaintances (i.e.: Paris Hilton), the book is not based in reality. Whatever. I'm still not going to read it.

T things: So if the T isn't crowded and I've got plenty of space in the back of the train to stand, why must people come all the way back and crowd me? There's plenty of room for them elsewhere. And in related musings, is anyone who rides the B Line happy? I don't think I've ever seen anyone on that line smile. On the C Line, people are talking to each other, laughing — I mean, it's not the love train by any means, but at least the general mood of the riders is happier.

Happy day: Today is Veterans Day. So who has it off? Only the post office, it seems. And also in related musings, I was in Shaw's last night and saw "Happy Veterans Day" cakes. Do you really wish people "Happy Veterans Day?"

Bad TV: I'd care more that it's Sam who dies on Reunion if only I liked any of the characters on that show. It's a good premise, but not one of the six characters is compelling enough to make the show watchable. Basically, the only reason I do watch is because it supposedly takes place in Bedford, NY, which is where I grew up. Supposedly. That's not the Bedford I know. The characters would have gone to Fox Lane High School (not Bedford High) and the hospital would have been Northern Westchester Hospital (not University Hospital). Just fyi, in case you're curious.

Behave or be gone: I really liked this story from Wednesday's New York Times. I think Dan McCauley, owner of a coffee shop in Chicago, has the right idea. "Part of parenting skills is teaching kids they behave differently in a restaurant than they do on the playground," he says. It's easy for me to say since I don't have kids, right? But the same goes for movie theaters. Bad thing is, of course, it's not just children: too many adults treat the movie theater like it's their living room. It's my biggest pet peeve — after people who don't know the correct way to ride an escalator, of course. (If you're going to stand, stay to the right and let the rest of us pass.)

Summertime: Got an advance copy of UB40's new CD, Who You Fighting For?, in the mail today (it's out January 24). Yes, those guys are still around, and with this album, they've got a return to form. (And I'm not just saying that because the British Mojo Magazine said it first.) I have the CD on while I'm working and it's making me forget that it's, like, 40 degrees out and that I dug my cold weather coat out this morning. At least mentally, summer's already here.

No day but Tuesday: Got my invite yesterday to see an advance screening of Rent next week. Can't wait. Especially now since Jeff Wells has posted such a huge rave about the film on his site, "Hollywood Elsewhere." Jeff calls himself a "not-very-hip type," something I can identify with if I know what he means, and he, like me, saw the show in 1996 when the original cast was still in it (I also saw the original cast in London, if you're interested). I've been listening to the movie soundtrack for a couple of months now and like it. I've also seen clips, but they cause me to be a bit reserved in my enthusiasm. Jeff Wells gives me hope today. Look for my review of the film mid next week.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

What a Bunch of (Swedish) Meatballs

Folks, it's only a store. And a furniture store at that. Yes, I've been to an IKEA. I know how cool they are. But still, it's only a store.

When the new IKEA location opened yesterday in Stoughton, the first person in line (an 18-year-old college student — of course) had been there 13 days. Thirteen days! Better, he was from Atlanta, not even from the Boston area. And better still, when the doors opened and he was presented with his $5,000 gift card, he didn't even go shopping. He just went to the airport and headed home. ("Two weeks, $5,000 — that’s pretty good pay," he said.)

I just don't understand the mentality of people who do stuff like that. I mean, it's not like the weather's been all that nice here, and it's not like the store won't be there a day later. Sure, I get that there's only glory if you're the first one in. And yes, I've been excited about new stores before. (Mmmmmm ... Krispy Kreme.) But why would anyone come all the way from Atlanta to wait outside of a store for two weeks? Sure, he got paid $5,000 just to sit around for two weeks, but he can only spend that money in one place. I wouldn't even do that for a Best Buy gift card. If you ask me, the kid's a moron.

Anyway, so the Boston Herald ran a story today about the guy who was third in line. "Survivor: Ikea" they called it. His name is Jeffrey Beaudett, and he's a 41-year-old senior mortgage banker for Citizens Bank in Woburn, married, and the father of five. A responsible-sounding guy. Well, he waited in line for seven days. And for his trouble, he pocketed a $1,500 gift card. (In the photo, he's the bald guy on the left, wearing the suit &mdash a suit!!)

According to the Herald, the people in line were able to take 10-minute breaks for runs to the bathroom or to smoke without losing their place in line, and had access to a shower inside the store once a day, though Beaudett says, "Some people took showers, and some people didn’t — and you knew who did and didn't." Otherwise, they pretty much stayed cooped up in the garage for as long as they were out there.

Here's one of my favorite sections of the Herald story:

<< It wasn't all happy times for the top five prize-winners, who slept overnight in a concrete cubby in the Ikea garage anywhere from five to 12 days, depending on their spots in line. The close quarters sometimes took their toll on the four men and one woman. Gossiping ensued, and squabbles erupted over issues such as territory and smoking.

"If you look at the five of us now, no one's really talking to each other," Beaudette said yesterday.

I can only imagine what kind of gossipping they were doing. And need I remind you that Beaudette is a 41-year-old father of five?

I also liked this part:

<< They read, watched DVDs, played video games and took delight in the small things — including the arrival of a second and more spacious portable toilet designed for handicapped users. >>

Nice. A new Porto-John. Woo hoo!

The Boston Globe's story about the opening included this anecdote:

<< By 11:15 a.m., Ikea had its first casualty. A $6.99 glass vase holding Lucky Bamboo sticks fell to the floor, shattering into tiny pieces across the brand new store. A crew of five quickly descended and swept the shards into a neat pile. >>

Sounds just like Disney World.

One thing I love about this IKEA store is that it's right next door to a Jordan's outlet and a half mile away from an Affordable Furniture. So you'd think the folks in Stoughton would have enough cheap furniture by now.

It must be the meatballs. Yes, that must be why 2,000 people were lined up when the store opened yesterday at 9 a.m. and why 20,000 people had been ushered through the doors by day's end. Who can beat Swedish Meatballs? How else would you explain such insanity? Otherwise, let's be honest: it's just a furniture store.

[A note to the readers: Sometimes my sarcastic tone doesn't exactly translate to print, so this entry probably sounded more like a rant than a mocking. Know that I wrote it with a big smile on my face, after laughing pretty hard while reading the Herald at lunch. And yes, if you read my posting from earlier today, you'll see I never do learn from my mistakes.]


It's Not Just Shannon Who Was Spoiled

I can't get too upset about Shannon's death on last night's episode of Lost. For starters, we've known for months that someone was going to die. So when the episode began and it was clear that it was a Shannon episode, and most of the hour was going to focus on her — well, duh. Clearly she's the one who was going to die. And there's no real loss to the show there. Sure, Maggie Grace is hot, but ever since Boone died last year, her character had turned into a bit of a drip (when they showed her, that is). And I just didn't buy her relationship with Sayid. Talk about convenient.

To be honest, as the episode wore on, given the trajectory the flashback was on, I was hoping that in the end it was actually Sayid who didn't make it. (I mean, that's assuming that Ana Lucia wasn't the one. How cool would it have been if Sawyer had woken up and shot her? Or Michael or Jin. Ugh. What a one-note bitch. Get over it, already.) Sayid even said to Shannon, "I'll never leave you." Isn't that the cliché? In horror movies, whoever says that line dies almost instantly. Oh well.

What I can get upset about is the fact that the Boston Herald ruined it all in yesterday's paper, and without warning. We're talking not just the who but also the how. Sure, they blamed it on the National Enquirer, but still ... I had deliberately avoided all spoilers related to the episode, and then while innocuously scanning the "Inside Track" page yesterday, there it was. Damn you, Boston Herald! Damn you! What a buzzkill it was come 9:55 last night. (And as a kicker, the paper even rated the episode a B+ in today's issue. Clearly the reviewer didn't read her own paper yesterday.)

So now I'm revved up about next week's episode. I can't wait to see the "tailies"' side of the story. I'll bet it's a great episode, maybe the best of the year. And with no crucial plot points for the Herald to ruin, it should be easier to enjoy.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hello. His Name Is Johnny Cash.

I'm happy to say I liked Walk the Line. I mean, really liked it. Really liked it, as in ran right out to buy the CD At Folsom Prison at the Virgin Megastore when the film was over (and it was on sale — bonus!). But ...

Alright, so here are my problems with Walk the Line: for starters, it's got all the major clichés you'd expect from a musical bio-pic, including the father issues (sorry, I mean "daddy issues" — this is the deep South, after all), the drug use, and the philandering. It's also got the framing device of starting with the big, climactic concert and then flashing back, with everything building to this performance. And it's also got tremendous guilt brought on by the death of a brother (thus, all that black clothing). Since it's so soon after Ray, this just feels repetitive.

And I could go on about how I think the film wastes the framing device of starting and near-ending with the Folsom Prison concert because it doesn't ever really explain what drew Johnny to those inmates and that prison (I mean, beyond the fan mail). And the fact that the issues with Johnny's father are never really satisfyingly resolved (and by that, I mean that even though they weren't resolved in real life, in the film it's just kind of oddly wrapped up).

But you know what? I really liked this movie despite all that. I'm not the world's biggest Johnny Cash fan, but I have to say, Joaquin Phoenix, um, call it what you want. Is it channeling? Impersonating? Whatever. The guy's got Johnny down cold, including the deep baritone speaking and singing voice. It's hard to believe he's not lip synching. Of course you're gonna like Johnny Cash — the movie's all about him. But Phoenix's portrayal is totally endearing. I mean, who can't relate to a guy with an unrequited crush?

And that scene at Folsom really rocks. I wish it was longer. (Um, yeah I do. I went out and bought the frickin' CD!) Robert Patrick's also quite good as Johnny's father, and Reese Witherspoon's singing voice is as cute as she is. (But don't be picking her in your Oscar pools just yet. The rest of her performance borders on annoying.)

So there you go. Walk the Line's definitely worth seeing. I just have some issues with it. But I really did enjoy it, so I'll give it a B+.


In the Globe Again ...

Hey y'all. I'm in the Globe again today, the centerspread of the "Sidekick" section. There's a sizable quote from my recent posting about Coolidge Corner — although the quote cuts off a bit prematurely.

Still, it's good to get the exposure. I'll pat myself on the back for a job (still) well done.

For those out of town, I have scanned the quote for you, just like I did last time. Just click on the image and it'll show up in a bigger size.


Something's Not Right Here

Looks like there's an error over at This is how my home page showed up last night. No kidding. I didn't doctor this at all.

Someone tell me which one is supposed to be the wizard and which one is supposed to be the ape.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A Whole New World (for me, at least)

Spent a bit of time in the South End on Saturday with Pyles, Farrah, and Barry. It's a funny thing: the South End is one part of town I just don't really ever spend any time in. Not sure why. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was there. Thankfully, we picked a great day weather-wise to take it in. And it was cool because I finally went to places that had been recommended to me for a while.

For example, our first stop was brunch at Metropolis Café. In a word: Yum. Good pancakes and eggs. Of course, I was really torn betwen that (aka: the Metropolis Breakfast) and the cinnamon brioche french toast, so I'll definitely have to go back soon to try the other dish. Now granted, no other brunch place could ever compare to Johnny's Luncheonette in Newton Center (I take my brunch seriously — more on that in another posting eventually), but it's nice to have other good places to go.

Then we quenched our sweet tooths with a walk over to Flour, one of those much heralded bakeries that I've wanted to go to for, like, ever. I'm not going to say the homemade Oreo was orgasmic or even worth the wait (I think that's because I was expecting something more along the lines of a Whoopie Pie), but it was real good — and gone in seconds. Ever the indecisive person, I was torn between that and the mini chocolate cakes, which also looked tasty. I'm going to have to go back there too. (Sense a pattern?)

On our way up Rutland Street, we all got a big laugh from a poem posted on some of the telephone poles that went something like this:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
No one wants to see all this poo!

Clean up after your dog
As you ought to do
And I'll remove these poems from view.
— the poet from Haven Street

It reminded me that unlike some other parts of town, the South End is a real neighborhood. There's a community feel to the area, no doubt due partly to the small gardens and communal gathering areas (and on other streets, the rainbow flags). I don't think you could get away with posting that sign on multiple poles on my street — much less one pole.

I know the contents of this entry must not be news to most folks, but for me it sort of was. I've often been accused of spending too much time in my Green Line-centered world. I mean, I'm not the world's biggest Cambridge or Somerville fan (thus, why I didn't write up my afternoon spent in Central Square last weekend), but the South End is somewhere I could learn to enjoy. There are just too many good restaurants and too much nice architecture to overlook it in my wanderings around the city. And I know I just skimmed the surface on Saturday. So I hope to get back over there to explore the area some more (and try out the french toast and chocolate cake) real soon.

Going Down

Instead of seeing a new movie this weekend (because really, considering I've seen 11 movies in the past month, I needed a break), I decided to watch my new DVD of Titanic on Saturday. (And thank you, Rebecca, for sending it to me.) Now, I'm not the world's biggest Titanic fan, but I did see it twice in the theater back in 1997-98 and had decent memories of its quality. How times change. I'm not sure if it was watching the movie on my 27-inch television or if my taste in movies has changed that drastically, but man was this movie not all that good. (I know. Big shock.) Sure, the effects were (mostly) cool and all, but, um, who was Leonardo DiCaprio kidding when he got all insulted about not being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor? Talk about an overrated, self-inflated actor. And Kate Winslet was only mildly better. I sat there on my couch trying to figure out why this movie was so popular and for so long. In addition to its big effects, it pandered to the audience, and had lame dialogue and stiff acting — I guess you could say it wasn't all that different from films like The Day After Tomorrow, except that movie I know I liked. And where was the trailer? Of all the DVD extras to leave off, and there are plenty on the disc, that was one of the most puzzling.

Maybe your heart will go on, but mine remains stone cold — at least as far as this movie is concerned.

[Bonus trivia question: Titanic was the number one movie at the box office for 15 consecutive weeks. What movie dethroned it? Your only hint is that it was released on April 3, 1998.]


The Guy Is Falling! The Guy Is Falling!

Could Chicken Little have been any worse, you may have asked yourself after reading my review last week? Well, check out this story from Sunday's New York Daily News and make your own decision:

No Chicken Little — Kids See Suicide

A Times Square movie theater laid an egg at a showing of
Chicken Little last night.

Adults and kids expecting to watch Disney's G-rated animated flick at the AMC Empire 25 theater on 42nd St. were instead presented with a foreign film that opened with a young man committing suicide.

"It's pandemonium," Joshua Gallo, 30, told the
Daily News as he rushed out of the theater with his 5-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. "The kids are crying. The mothers are screaming for the managers to stop the film."

Terrified children didn't know what to do as they watched a young boy hang himself from a tree at the 8:45 p.m. screening.

After five minutes,
Andrea, a Spanish drama opening today, was turned off and Chicken Little was played.

Patrons got a coupon for a free movie.

— by Oren Yaniv and Rich Schapiro


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quote of the Day

"I'm 30 years old and I've finally learned how to talk to teenage girls."
Dan Friedell on covering high school sports for his local paper

I hear ya, buddy.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Back in Time

I'm a bit surprised there hasn't been more news coverage about today's important anniversary. After all, it was 50 years ago (November 5, 1955) that Dr. Emmett Brown came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor.

Story goes, Doctor Brown was standing on his toilet, hanging a clock, and he fell and hit his head on the sink. And that's when he came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor, which is, of course, what makes time travel possible.

Thanks to Doctor Brown's important discovery, Marty McFly was able to go back in time, see his parents as high schoolers, and bring them closer together (after he almost made their entire relationship non-existent, of course).

I want you all to celebrate this special day with me, but since I can't fit every one of my readers in a DeLorean, we'll have to do it blog-style. Come back in time with me to September 1, 2005, the day of my very first posting on this site.

Now let's all raise a Tab ("Tab? I can't give you a tab unless you order something.") or a Pepsi Free ("You want a Pepsi, pal, you're gonna pay for it.") to Doctor Emmett Brown and his groundbreaking scientific discovery!

[For the record, VB on the Fox 25 morning news made a big deal a couple weeks ago, on October 26, that that was the anniversary of Doctor Brown's breakthrough. Well, he was wrong. See, it was on October 26, 1985 that Marty traveled back in time — to November 5. My assumption is that VB would like to go back in time to correct his mistake.]

Friday, November 04, 2005

Coolidge, I've Got You Cornered

So it seems that Brookline is celebrating its 300th birthday — again — next weekend (November 13). And at least according to the Brookline Tab, this must be the actual birthday weekend — not the one on September 19 when the first celebration took place.

As a warm-up to the festivities, this week's issue of the Tab includes all kinds of cool Brookline historical info, including a great list of the "300 Things You Never Knew About Brookline" and a special magazine-style insert with comparisons of past and present, and a timeline of important dates.

Call me stupid if you will, but one of the things I've always wondered about Brookline is which specific corner is "Coolidge Corner." I mean, the whole area around there is referred to as Coolidge Corner, but there has to be one particular corner that has that name, right? Is it the one where Best Cellars is? Where the Bank of America is? Walgreens? CVS? (That's assuming the corner is at the corner of Beacon and Harvard streets.) Sure, there are some older buildings in that intersection, but given the passing of time and construction and all, it's possible that one of the newer buildings could have been erected on the site of the actual Coolidge Corner.

According to the Tab, on their list of the 300 things, number 182 is "Coolidge Corner began as the Coolidge and Brother general store at the corner of Beacon and Harvard Streets." Well, that doesn't really provide anything new, but it does confirm the intersection (not that I really thought the corner was at Babcock and Harvard streets).

The Coolidge Corner Theater's web site discusses the Corner's history, but doesn't specifically say where the Coolidge Corner is. In fact, by saying "the S.S. Pierce Building (1898), went up near 'Coolidge's Corner,'" it implies that "Coolidge's Corner" wasn't actually on the corner!

I think I found the answer on the official Brookline 300 web site, which says: "In 1898, the famous S.S. Pierce Building was constructed at 'Coolidge’s Corner.'" Which means, I guess, that what I assumed all along is true: the corner of the Harvard and Beacon intersection where the S.S. Pierce Building is, where Walgreens is — that is the true Coolidge Corner. Mystery solved. (I think.)

Anyway, to see the full calendar of events for the second Brookline 300th birthday bash — featuring a performance by Entrain, one of my favorite bands — check out


Thursday, November 03, 2005

This Should Come as No Surprise

Well I suppose if there's a Thank You, Theo web site, then it's not surprising to learn there's also a Larry Lucchino Sucks site too. And this new site is not just a chance for fans to say how much they love Theo (and by the way, as of 8:10 p.m. on Thursday, 1443 people had done so). It's a protest site where you can do things like contribute to a top 10 list, email the Sox to air your views, and learn how "Larry Lucchino Ate My Baby."

And here I thought things would quiet down by week's end. I guess this is going to last all winter long ...

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In Mutton-speak: Baa Baa Baa Baa !

Chicken Little is a cute movie. I don't necessarily say that as a good thing, but it's not really a bad thing either. It's colorful, generally fast-moving, and fun. Strangely, though, it's not entirely kid-friendly; many of the jokes went over the heads of the many, many, many kids in the auditorium when I saw it last night. (And don't get me started about THAT!) And it's sort of two movies in one, including a very long, what I can only call homage to Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. So, if forced to give a grade, I'd give Chicken Little a B. It's not bad, it's not great. It's just fine.

That said, I saw the movie wearing 3-D glasses, and I have to say, if you're going to see this movie, the only way to do so is by seeing the 3-D version. Sure, you may pay an extra dollar or two, but the effect of seeing it in this format with all the extra depth and dimension is totally worth it. In fact, don't even bother seeing Chicken Little unless you see the 3-D version — and make sure you stay all the way through the end credits to see the 15-second kicker when they're over. The effects generally aren't gratuitous, and some are really quite cool &mdash and the glasses (which look just like Chicken Little's in the film) fit comfortably, even over my glasses. But because the movie ain't all that great, the 3-D version of Chicken Little only gets an inflated B+. I look forward to a 3-D The Incredibles (hopefully) sometime really soon. There are no plans to release the film in 3-D (at least as far as I know), but that would be so cool.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

It's Just That Simple

Thank you, Theo. (click on the link, or just go to

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Exclusive: Sox to Name New GM Today

Unknown described as Theo's "best pal"

Nov. 1, 1:00 PM (ET)
By Noah Treal

YAWKEY WAY (AP) — In a surprise move that stunned an already shocked Red Sox Nation, the president and CEO of the 2004 World Series Champions announced that he would hold a press conference today to introduce the team's new general manager, less than 24 hours after former GM Theo Epstein resigned from the position.

"How do you replace someone like Theo?" Larry Lucchino said in a statement released to the press early Tuesday. "You do it quickly." A press conference was scheduled for 4 p.m. at Fenway Park.

Epstein's replacement, Martin Lieberman, is a longtime Red Sox fan. Like Epstein, Lieberman is 31, single, Jewish and a Brookline resident, although he has only lived in the Boston suburb for four years. He was born and raised in New York, where his parents root for the Mets.

"When I got the call last night from Larry, I thought it was a joke," Lieberman said this morning. "But I quickly accepted the position. I don't know why Theo walked away from such a great gig. And Larry couldn't have been nicer. I was pleasantly surprised, given what I'd read in the papers recently."

Lieberman added that he was looking forward to taking on the challenges that Epstein left behind: re-signing multiple free agents, including Johnny Damon, and dealing with Manny Ramirez' frequent trade requests. "I'm a gemini," he said, referring to Ramirez. "I know how to handle fluctuating moods."

According to published reports, Lieberman and Epstein met one day in June 2003 on the corner of Brookline Ave. and Yawkey Way, when Epstein was on his day off and Lieberman was on his way to a tour of Fenway. Lieberman said a connection was made.

"Even though we haven't seen each other or spoken since that day, I know Theo must still think of me as his best pal," Lieberman said.

A virtual unknown within baseball circles, Lieberman said he had been to three games during the 2005 campaign and had watched "plenty of others" on NESN. He attributed Lucchino's choice to Lucchino's "desire to try something new" with someone "who really doesn't have a clue what he's doing."

Reaction from Sox players was mixed.

"You don't get better losing a guy like Theo," pitcher Curt Schilling told the Associated Press. "Still, I'm willing to work with this new guy. He sounds like someone I'd bloody my sock again for."

"He'd better be good. There's a lot to live up to there," first-baseman and free agent Kevin Millar said. "I mean, I set the bar for the jokes pretty high and if they're gonna let me go, someone is going to have to carry that weight."

Lieberman's friends and family were more subdued.

"At first I was like, it's just Marty being Marty," Todd Kaplan, a Sox fan who lives in Los Angeles, said. "But then I decided to let him talk. He seemed so amused by the story that I thought it might actually be real. Good thing I know better than that."

Lieberman's sister, Mitzi, a New York-based lawyer, simply said, "Whatever. My brother is a nincompoop." She then added, "He likes to show off that photo of him and Theo whenever he gets the chance. It's pretty sad, actually."

Epstein walked away from a 3-year deal worth a reported $4.5 million on Monday, just hours before his contract expired. Details of Lieberman's salary and length of contract were undisclosed at press time, but Lieberman indicated that the deal was "pretty sweet — I'm going to get to go to every game!"

Perhaps the most enthusiastic response to Lieberman's hire came from Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, whose column in Sunday's issue was reported to have been one of the leading causes for Epstein's resignation.

"Last year I drove Pedro out of town. This year I've done it with Theo," Shaughnessy said. "I give this Lieberman guy three months. He'll be gone by Spring Training. Mark my words."


It's Called Plenty of Rest and Fluids ...

Ridiculous news story of the day: Bush to Announce Strategy to Battle Flu

My mother probably has some good ideas for him. Chicken noodle soup, for starters.