Tuesday, January 31, 2006

From One George to Another

State of the Union Eve is always a fun night. The challenge? What will be the best option among all those channels not showing the speech. You'd think it would be easy, what with the 100 or so channels on the cable "dial." But tonight, I settled on Ocean's Twelve on HBO. That George is a lot more charming and believable than the one on the major networks ... and CNN, and MSNBC, and FNC, and ...


Good Man, That Oscar

Gotta say, I'm really happy with the Oscar nominations this year. Really quickly ...

* Couldn't be happier that Terrence Howard was nominated for Hustle & Flow (it's not hard out there for that pimp)
* Speaking of ... it kicks ass that "It's Hard Out Here For a Pimp" was nominated for Best Song. Can't wait to see that performed on the show.
* Glad that Amy Adams was nominated simply because she was a pleasant surprise (even if I didn't like Amy's movie Junebug all that much)
* Frances McDormand stole Maria Bello's spot
* Glad the Academy woke up and noticed Munich, unlike some of the other awards groups
* Is anyone else besides Felicity Huffman and Reese Witherspoon nominated for Best Actress? Does it even matter? At least Best Actor has a semi-three-way race, even if Philip Seymour Hoffman is a near-lock to win.
* Best Picture nominees are just right. Walk the Line was a well-acted movie, but it wasn't a great movie overall.
* No Disney animated film nominee? That's gotta hurt. Of course, maybe if they made a movie that was better than Chicken Little, they may have had a shot.
* Good to see The Squid and the Whale get nominated for Best Original Screenplay. I'm guessing Jeff Daniels was in sixth place, behind Terrence Howard.
* Murderball is my pick for Best Documentary Feature
* Much as I think Brokeback Mountain will win Best Picture, it'll be a fun month seeing it and Crash battle it out. This one could be close.
* Though he's not officially a producer on Good Luck, and Good Night. as far as the Academy is concerned, George Clooney is one of the film's producers, meaning he's got four nominations. I've said it before and I'll say it again: George Clooney is the man.
* I know he doesn't make movies for the awards (if that was the case, they may actually be good), but George Lucas has to be stinging over the fact that Star Wars: Episode III: The Best of the Worst Three Movies of All Time only received one measly nomination, for Best Makeup. Not even a bone thrown in George's direction for visual effects. Ouch.

I love Oscar season ...

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A Floor So Clean ...

Anyone want to come over tonight and eat dinner off my floor? It's just that clean. I tell you, it's been a long time since my kitchen floor shined like it's doing now. Getting the place cleaned by MaidPro was money well-spent.

And that, my friends, is what I hope will be the last posting about cleaning my apartment. As far as this blog is concerned, end of story. From here on out, my attention turns to actually joining the gym.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sign of the Apocalypse, No. 427

Ludacris is a Screen Actors' Guild award winner (as a member of the ensemble cast of Crash). Will Fo' Bit be next?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Number Sixty-One

Alright, now I'm done. Today I saw Transamerica, my 61st movie of all those released in 2005, and thus, those that are qualified for all the awards this year. Because I want to start (finally) writing up my top 10 list, I'll make this quick: Transamerica is alright. Some of it is a little bit hokey and Felicity Huffman is good, but she didn't blow me away. Here's what was nagging at me: I just wasn't totally buying the film, and I was continually wondering whether a man should have played the lead role, not a woman. No matter how much she uglies herself up, or tries to deepen her voice, Felicity Huffman is just too attractive to convincingly play this role. Does that mean the crux of the film went totally over my head? It's entirely possible. Does it mean I enjoyed it any less? Not really. So I'm giving Transamerica a B.


Saturday, January 28, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

When I first saw Brokeback Mountain at the beginning of December, I liked the movie, but I wasn't particularly moved by it. As a result, I thought my impressions of the movie had been tainted by the wave of hype that had preceded its release. And I'm not going to lie, that sort of bothered me. I felt like I had missed out on something, and that I didn't get the full Brokeback experience. (Stop your snickering, Todd.) And if you know me at all, you know I hate to miss out on something that everyone else has.

So now, about two months later, I've seen Brokeback Mountain again. And I know how this will sound relative to the fact that there's so much more hype now than there was back then, but the second time I saw the movie, I had the emotional experience I was hoping for. When the lights went up, I found myself profoundly saddened by what I had seen. In fact, it was not all that different from how I feel every time I see The Talented Mr. Ripley, which is one of my top 5 favorite films of all time. Both films elicit a real sympathy (and, I'll admit, empathy) for the main character, because Tom Ripley and Ennis both are denied the happiness they crave so desperately. Both characters thought they had made a much-needed emotional connection with someone, and in both cases, due to tragic circumstances they are partly responsible for, it has been taken away from them.

Regarding Brokeback, I still didn't necessarily see what initially drew Jack and Ennis to each other in such a passionate way, but unlike the first time I saw the film, I actually felt that there was a connection, however tenuous, and that made much of what followed all that much more powerful for me.

Brokeback Mountain is clearly one of the best stories and one of the best-made movies of the year. It deserves every accolade it gets. Still, I'm a little bit confused by why the gay community has embraced it to the degree it has. Yes, the love story is treated respectfully, and the film portrays a slant on Americana that has heretofore been unseen by mainstream audiences. But at its heart (no pun intended), Brokeback Mountain is a deeply sad film about some very lonely characters. The film doesn't end happily, it doesn't put forth a message of hope in any way, and really, considering our hero is a character so far in the closet that it hurts to watch him be in such pain about it, I'd think it would hardly be the type of film gay people would embrace. Perhaps that's why I don't understand it, because I'm not in that community.

My larger point, I suppose, is that the film is so universal in its theme of loneliness and despair that no community can truly lay claim to it. When Jack and Ennis are in their argument toward the end of the film, and Ennis says, "It's because of you that I'm like this," he doesn't entirely mean gay. He means frustrated because he isn't allowing himself to be happy and in a relationship that he wants — and, more importantly, needs — and it's killing him. And when Jack utters the now infamous line, "I wish I knew how to quit you," it doesn't elicit the laughs that it gets out of context. It's truly heartbreaking. I'll bet a good handful of the people who have been laughing at the "quit you" jokes are blown away by the reaction they have when the line is spoken in the film.

Every now and then, a movie will come along that will provide a cathartic emotional experience of some kind. Whether it elicits tears or just a lump in your throat (and no, I was not a crying, blubbering idiot), I think that's just about the best praise you can give, that the film generated such a strong response, even if it's not a happy one. And in truth, I feel like I could see Brokeback Mountain again. Actually, I want to. And I'm going to up my grade to a B+/A- hybrid.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Is This Thing On?

Yes, I'm still here. You can stop e-mailing and instant messaging and calling to ask why I haven't posted anything in a few days. Been busy at work and didn't have anything particularly blog-worthy to post about. I mean, you tell me, did you want me to write about any of the following topics:

* How excited I am that I have scheduled the folks from MaidPro to come and clean my apartment this Tuesday morning
* How I think I'm having a particularly good hair week, despite feeling the urge to get it cut this weekend
* New Theo, same as the old Theo
* How it's so cold out. Big deal
* How, civil liberties aside, I think the folks in Newton were lame for making the FBI get a warrant in order to seize the computer that a bomb threat was sent to Brandeis from. Town officials called it their "finest hour." I agree with the Herald: they're clueless.
* How, rumor has it, James Frey, author of book du jour A Million Little Pieces, was a counselor at my camp up in New Hampshire — but after I was there
* How I think cleaning my apartment has had a positive cosmic domino effect on my entire life: professionally, romantically, physically, and personally, everything seems to be going really well for me lately
* How if you haven't done it yet, you should click on my link to EngagedGroom.com before Doug's contest ends
* How the fact that you can now buy episodes of Laguna Beach and South Park on iTunes may just be the best incentive to buy a video iPod yet
* How The Office may just be the funniest show of all time (and episodes of that show are also available on iTunes)
* How Red Sox tickets go on sale tomorrow, and for the first time in years, I really don't seem to care

... yeah, didn't think so. Look for more from me over the weekend when hopefully I'll actually have something substantial to write about.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I'm Fighting For Them

As I said way back on November 11, UB40's new CD Who You Fighting For? is awesome. It hit stores today and I just wanted to post something here because I really, really like it. If you thought the band was not capable of anything more than "Red, Red Wine," give this one a spin. Just try not to groove along with tracks like "After Tonight" and "Good Situation." Try not to be swept into the rhythm of "I'll Be on My Way" and "Things You Say You Love." Especially now with it being so cold out (at least here in the northeast), Who You Fighting For? will make it feel like summer. Trust me on this one. Or, log onto iTunes and hear for yourself.


Monday, January 23, 2006

So Happy Together

For all you women out there who just couldn't relate to Brokeback Mountain, have I got the movie for you. Imagine Me & You tells the story of a woman who, on her wedding day (to a man), makes eye contact with another woman and instantly falls in love. She tries to hold back her feelings, but ultimately, they're too strong. I'm not kidding. This movie would make an excellent double feature with Brokeback: one is manly and quiet, this one is cutesy and sweet. In Brokeback, Health Ledger speaks in a sometimes undecipherable mumble. In Imagine, nearly all the characters speak in an undecipherable British accent. But this one is a total chick flick. It's not necessarily a bad movie, and it's certainly enjoyable, but I just had a hard time with the fact that the florist who was hired for the wedding a) apparently hadn't met the bride (or anyone in the family) beforehand, b) hadn't delivered the flowers until that day (seemingly, just minutes before the ceremony), and c) stuck around in her casual clothes to enjoy the festivities. Fine. Big deal. I also thought the best friend was a bit clichéd (he's that doofus player type who refuses to believe the girl is gay and thinks he can "convert" her). More importantly, I just had a hard time believing the movie's premise, that this woman, on her wedding day, would see a random other woman, who wasn't even invited to the ceremony, and just like that not love her husband anymore, and would instead be in love with this woman. I believe in love at first sight, but that is a bit far-fetched. So ultimately, the movie was just eh for me. And as a side note, poor Matthew Goode. First Scarlett Johansson cheats on him in Match Point and now Piper Perabo is in love with another woman. He should never have left Mandy Moore, his costar in Chasing Liberty.

Anyway, I'm giving Imagine Me & You a C+. It opens here in Boston on February 3.


Crude Commute

I realize bad commuting experience postings on a snowy day are a dime a dozen, but I thought I'd post this anyway.

Here's my beef: I can appreciate why T drivers open the door at every stop to let people on and off when the train is so crowded and people have a hard time getting through. That said, I don't understand why they do it, especially when the train is packed to the gills and no one is getting off and there's no room for anyone else to get on.

Today I got on at Coolidge Corner and of course, I had to stuff myself onto the train, securing a small parcel of space at the second door from the front, against the railing on the second stair (of three). Clearly there was no room left for anyone else to get on. However, one stop later, at St. Paul's Street, the doors opened and some woman, thinking she was funny (I know because she was laughing), got on and stood on the bottom stair. Unfortunately, when the door closed, it felt like she was literally up my ass. (Sorry for the crude imagery. It's about to get worse.) And she remained there all the way down Beacon Street. At each stop, when the door would close, she got thrust back into me again. (Okay, it's over now.)

At the St. Mary's Street stop, someone was getting off, so I got off the train to make room on the stairway. What happened? The woman who had been up my ass quickly took my spot on the stairs, making me have to squeeze to barely get back on. So much for common courtesy.

I wish the MBTA knew how to handle snowy days. No kidding, every time it snows the T service is slower, less frequent, more crowded, more idiotic, and beyond explanation. It's not like we live in Florida or something where snow would be a freak occurance. This is Boston. It snows every year, multiple times. When will the MBTA ever learn? And when will people learn how to be a bit more sensible on days like today and not be rude to their fellow passengers?


Just a Quick Question

Is there anyone out there who doesn't know the Metro is free? Why do all the hawkers feel the need to emphasize "free" when they're giving out papers? "Metro! Free Metro!" I don't get it.

(Alright, that was two questions. But they're related.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Cleanup Continues

I really like how every day I spend cleaning my apartment is like a day I've gone shopping. Last week, after going through my clothes closet, I had all kinds of "new" sweaters and shirts to wear. Tonight, after spending a few hours finally cleaning off my kitchen table, it's like I have a brand new piece of furniture to eat dinner on.

There was stuff on my table from as far back as February 2005, which had been piled underneath bills, direct mailings, magazines, birthday cards, Rosh Hashannah cards, Hanukkah cards, birth announcements, more bills, 401k statements, magazine subscription renewals ... you name it. Suffice it to say, all that old stuff has been thrown away. And sure, I could probably have just lifted it up and thrown it all away in one fell swoop, but I did go through each and every thing that was on the table, just to make sure I didn't need some of it and to make sure it was safe to put in the trash. I double bagged the garbage bags and everything.

And for good measure, I also went through the stack of mail that I had put in my bedroom (under my bed) last year to make room for my Super Bowl party and hadn't gone through since. Alls I know is that it's a good thing companies send "reminders" when you haven't paid your bills, or else I'd be severely in debt right now. Despite the number of and age of the bills I found today, nearly all of them had been paid already.

So now, after cleaning up my dresser, my two closets, my kitchen table, and my DVD/VHS tape collection, I suppose the next step is to hire a cleaning company. That'll be this week's project. I'm looking at MaidPro. Does anyone know anything about them? Of course, before they can come, I need to get the stacks of CDs off the top of my bookshelves and entertainment unit, and the books off my floor. I also want to clean up a little bit under my bed and get rid of some of the pictures and posters that have been there since I moved into my apartment four years ago.

Point is, for a change, I'm actually sticking with something and seeing it through instead of dropping the ball midway. I'm walking the walk, instead of just talking the talk. This bodes well for the rest of the year.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

He's Baaaaaaack

Theo's back. Woo hoo.

I suppose I'd be more excited if the guy could play center field. Or shortstop. Or first base. Or even left field. At this point in the off-season, with the team in such disarray, the guy can't do much from the stands.

More news to come next week, but for now, it sounds like my G.M. job is secure. Phew!


Adam Gaffin had this on his site a few hours ago, but I thought it was too funny not to post on my blog too. Apparently Boston.com made a bit of a boo-boo earlier today. Good thing I take the T home, or else I might be caught in this traffic jam for a while...

(click on the image if you can't read the "Traffic Alert")


People Are Strange

When you're heading down in the elevator toward the first floor, why do people who get on after you feel the need to press the 1 button, even though it's clearly already been pushed. The elevator won't get there any faster, people.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Over 2,000 Served

I've now passed the 2,000-visitor mark. That's not 2,000 individuals, but the number of times someone has come to the site to read what I have to say. When I first started posting to my blog back in August, I didn't quite know what the site would turn into. Five months later, it's been a fun outlet for me to write different kinds of stuff, and I thank y'all who've come back again and again (and again) for a laugh or two, or to indulge my random side, or to get my opinions on the latest movies or whatever. I look forward to counting the next 2,000 visitors.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Things You Learn in the Student Newspaper

I'll admit, I'm not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to current affairs — especially those dealing with Washington, D.C. Still, I got a big laugh out of George Clooney's joke last night at the Golden Globes about how Jack Abramoff's parents were cruel for naming him Jack when his last name ended with 'off.'

I got an even bigger jolt when I flipped through the online edition of my alma mater's student newspaper today to learn that Abramoff was not only a fellow alumnus — he's class of 1981 — but that he was being called "the most wretched alumnus" in the school's history because in the nearly 25 years since he graduated, he has donated a grand total of $50 to Brandeis, and that was in 2002. I guess that's pretty wretched (all things considered), though I can think of some worse things he could have done. I mean, at least he gave something. Does that really make him "wretched?" If this is the barometer The Justice is using, then I wonder who the second-most-wretched alumnus is. I know one thing: it's not me.

What Day Is It?

I suppose it's not really worth it to have A.J. Jacobs' The Know-It-All daily calendar sitting on my desk if I'm not going to remember to rip off pages until 4:45 pm.

Then again, considering today's page told me that "Arales is a flowering plant that emits a fetid odor that attracts flies," perhaps it's a good thing I didn't remember to turn the page until just a little while ago.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Slow as Molasses in January

Forgive me, but I totally forgot to post something yesterday about it being the 87th anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood of 1919. At my company, we have a welcome lunch for the interns every semester, and somehow the telling of this story by our resident historian has become a traditional part of the "entertainment." Because it's one of those true stories that so few people my age know, I thought I'd post a quick summary. Here goes ...

Back in the day, molasses was the standard sweetener across the country, used in things like soda, etc. (these days it's corn syrup). Molasses was also fermented and used in producing ethyl alcohol for use in making liquor and as a key component in the manufacture of munitions. Right here in Boston there was a distillery located over by the North End at 529 Commercial Street with a 50-foot-tall, 240-foot-wide tank that contained 2.5 million gallons of molasses. The stored molasses was supposed to be transferred to a plant situated between Willow Street and what is now named Evereteze Way in Cambridge. Suffice it to say, it never got there.

On January 15, a dull, muffled roar was heard emanating from the six-story-tall tank. This was quickly followed by a huge explosion that sent the tank's half-inch-thick sheet iron shell flying through the air in three giant pieces, and unleashed a wave of molasses upon the unsuspecting people of the neighborhood. Apparently, the wave was between 8 and 15 feet high, it moved at 35 mph, and exerted a pressure of 2 tons/foot. According to Wikipedia's entry on the subject, "the molasses wave was of sufficient force to break the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway's Atlantic Avenue Elevated structure and lift a train off the tracks. Several nearby buildings were also destroyed, and several blocks were flooded to a depth of 2 to 3 feet. Twenty-one people were killed and 150 injured as the molasses crushed and asphyxiated many of the victims to death. Rescuers found it difficult to make their way through the syrup to help the victims."

Can you just picture this scene? It's awesome in its scope and destructiveness. It's like a good disaster movie — The Day After Tomorrow, for example. I mean, the story is real and dramatic, and yes, I know people lost their lives, but how cool does that sound?!? People, we're talking a fifteen-foot-high wall of molasses!!! Why hasn't there been a movie made about this yet? There's even a book that came out in 2004 that provides the perfect title: Dark Tide. No kidding. It's really called Dark Tide! That's genius! Jerry Bruckheimer, are you reading this? I hear no less than Nicolas Cage is standing by, ready to take on the leading role.

Anyway, no one knows exactly why all this happened, though a couple of theories posit that it had something to do with the pending ratification of the 18th Amendment, which happened the next day, beginning the Prohibition era. More likely is the fact that unseasonably warm temperatures caused rapid expansion of the molasses and overstressed the tank. The day before, the temperature was only 2 degrees. On the day of the accident, it had risen to an unseasonably warm 40 degrees. (Sounds like this past weekend in reverse.)

Today, only a small plaque at the entrance to Puopolo Park commemorates the flood. But I've been told that if you walk through the North End on a hot summer day, you can still smell the molasses coming up from the ground ...

(Want more? check out Yankee magazine's 1965 story about the flood.)

So because this is one of my favorite stories, tragic though it is, I wanted to post something here to commemorate the anniversary.


Happy MLK Day

The nice thing about commuting on a holiday is that it goes a lot faster when no one else is working. Now, if only it wasn't so cold out ...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Spring Is Coming

Of course, the best news about the Patriots' loss last night and the end of their season is that it means, at least in one way, that Winter is coming to an end. Soon all the sports news will be about the Red Sox again (not that they've really been absent from the sports pages lately), pitchers and catchers will be reporting for spring training, birds will be chirping, the sun will be shining, temperatures will be warmer, and Spring will be here. Woo hoo!


Saturday, January 14, 2006

For an Assassin, He's Really Nice

I liked a few things about The Matador, among them: Hope Davis, who isn't in the movie nearly enough; the style, particularly the big, colorful type that announces each new location; and the soundtrack, despite the rather obvious inclusion of The Killers' "All These Things That I've Done." In addition, Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan make a good team, and I liked that both of their characters end the movie with honor, despite the fact that one of them is an assassin. So why am I only giving the movie a B? I'm not sure. I mean, I wish there was more of the guys in Denver and less of them in Mexico City (maybe a switch of 10 minutes on either side), and as I said, more of Hope Davis. So I guess it's because the movie just wasn't in the same league as, say, Munich. But this is far from a bad movie, and I'd recommend it.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I'm Just Going to Do It

The last time I belonged to a gym was about 6 years ago, when I joined simply out of boredom. I was living in Allston, around the corner from a Boston Sports Club, and it was March — the time of the TV season after February sweeps when everything was in reruns. Because I was coming home night after night and not doing much more than channel surfing, I figured I might as well do something better with my time. So I got on a mild fitness kick, started to eat a little better, and actually worked out three days a week.

That lasted maybe a couple of months, until the middle of May, when the weather got nicer and my life became busier again. Then I just stopped going to the gym altogether. Every month the fee would be taken out of my bank account automatically, but I didn't seem to notice. It was like that episode of Friends where Chandler had a hard time quitting the gym. I put my membership on hold, but that was only for two months. It wasn't until sometime in September or October that I actually quit the gym for good. And I haven't really thought seriously about re-joining a gym ever since.

Until now.

My company's offices recently moved right near a FitCorp (it's practically next door). As if I needed more reasons to join a gym, what with my sister's wedding coming up and my general wanting to get in better shape, we're getting all kinds of incentives to join FitCorp (free initiation fee, one free month, discounted monthly fee, etc.). We just had an info session, and I realized that I could ask all the questions I wanted to — When do we get billed? Can I use any location in the FitCorp network? Is there parking? — but it didn't change the fact that I already sort of know I'm going to join eventually, and sooner rather than later so I don't miss out on the deals.

Of course, you may be wondering why I didn't just join right then and there, like some of my coworkers did. Well, I still need to make that mental shift to being a guy who goes to the gym, as opposed to someone who eats poorly, doesn't exercise, and wishes he went to the gym. I also need to be more of a person who just does things, and doesn't write on his blog about "mental shifts" and that kind of B.S.

I suppose one reason I never really enjoyed going to BSC was because I didn't have anyone to work out with, and now I can go with friends. And the Allston facility of BSC was not the nicest of places, so these gyms will be more encouraging to walk into. And I can also go right from the office or to the location closer to home in the medical area.

As I said, I really don't need to convince myself why I should join the gym. I just need to do it. And then I need to keep on doing it. The Great Reinvention of Martin Lieberman continues ...

Monday, January 09, 2006

First I Binged, and Now I've Purged

I'm happy to report that "The Great Clean-up of 2006" continued this weekend. It was a big day of purging yesterday — and of realizing just how much of a packrat I am, and of rediscovering some stuff I haven't seen in years and was truly baffled that I've hung onto for so long. For example:

* Posters, like the promotional one for season two of Dawson's Creek. Or the one for the movie Shine, which I bought when I first moved to Boston in 1997, and haven't seen since I moved out of that first apartment in September, 1998. I threw out the ones for the 1999 MLB All-Star Game (I already have one framed and hanging on a wall) and Dead Poets Society, among others, but I saved the one for Toy Story — and of course, my prized poster-sized Friends Rolling Stone cover.

* Pictures, and other miscellaneous stuff in box frames, such as the nice candids of me and two (unrequited) crushes I had in college (AM and RM, if you must know), or the blown-up color copy of the Ally McBeal TV Guide cover, or the stills of Wallace & Gromit and the black-and-white one of the cast of Friends (circa fall 1994). Perhaps the best of these was a caricature of myself that was done in October 1993 that didn't even really look like me.

* Self-assembled crate/building block thingees, which I hadn't used in at least five years.

* Birthday cards

* A husband pillow. You know, one of those things you use to sit up straight when you're sitting on your bed. Haven't used it in at least five years.

* Postcards I never sent and other crap (i.e.: brochures, boarding passes, etc.) from my trip to Los Angeles in August, 2002.

* Fish-themed lighting decorations from a party I threw when I turned 28 (i.e: 3.5 years ago)

And that's only some of it. When I was all done, I had four bags of trash and three ready to go to the Salvation Army or somewhere like that. Oh, and since I had disconnected my VCR a couple months back, I also went through my VHS tape collection to make room for the DVDs that were stacked on my floor. Many of the tapes were movies I own now on DVD, so I brought all of those in to work today to give out to whoever wanted them. Others I've saved because, well, you never know.

Next step is either my clothes closet or my books and CDs. I think I'm in denial about my kitchen table and all the bills and mail and other stuff that's stacked up there, teetering over every so often. I'll get to that eventually.

Point of all this is just to pat myself on the back publicly for keeping up with this cleaning and purging. I'm damned happy with myself for doing all this.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Don't Forget About Me

I see a lot of movies (my current total for 2005 releases is 59), so I take going to the movies quite seriously. But maybe I take it too seriously. Someone tell me if I am wrong here:

Tonight, when I went to see Match Point at the AMC Fenway, I got to the theater 20 minutes before showtime, before even the pre-show had started. At the time, the theater was not all that full so I put my coat on the seat to my left (there was also a coat on the seat to my right). During the pre-show and then the trailers, the theater got more crowded, but it still was not sold out, and the three seats to my left (including the one with my coat on it) were still not full. Right as the movie started, just as the credits were ending, two young ladies (college students, as far as I could tell), came into the row and one asked me if someone was sitting where my coat was. I barely acknowledged her, but said no (admittedly, I may have just shaken my head). Then she developed a little bit of an attitude and asked me if I could move my coat, which I did, but without really acknowledging her this time — after all, it was at least 15 minutes after the scheduled showtime and the movie had started. And when the third person in their group showed up two minutes later, she said to the other two girls (loudly enough so other people could hear), "We should have gotten here sooner." It didn't help matters that during the movie, the girl next to me fidgeted with her shopping bag to get out her cell phone so she could see what time it was, and then, with less than five minutes to go, her phone went off (the ringtone was Mariah Carey's "Don't Forget About Us"). Thankfully, she didn't answer it, but she did hit the button a few times to lower the sound.

Tell me: Am I wrong to say that people who show up late to the movie like that should just take whatever seats they can find, and have lost the right to ask the rest of us to move our coats or whatever may be in the seats next to us? I mean, I made the effort to get there early, and so have other people, so why should we have to deal with this kind of annoyance? I tend to be a passive-aggressive type in situations like that (believe you me, I commandeered the armrest ASAP), but should I have said yes, the seat was taken, even if it was a lie? Or am I overreacting, and she had every right to sit there if the seat, technically, was free? (For the record, the theater was not full and the girls could have sat elsewhere.)

I have no conflicted conscience about this. I just really hate moviegoers who intrude on my moviegoing experience.

Woody Allen Gets Lucky

Alternate headline: Advantage Woody
Alternate headline: Don't Call It a Comeback

With a track record over the past half-decade that includes Hollywood Ending and Anything Else, it seemed as if Woody Allen was off his game. But with Match Point, it's clear that something has gotten through to Woody, because his latest is a real and welcome change from his lackluster product of late.

Yes, Match Point appears at first to be classic Woody, what with its opening title sequence being the same minimalist style as most every other one of his films. But we're not in Kansas here, folks, or New York, for that matter. There's no Woody surrogate character, no 1920s jazz music, no unevenly aged love story, and certainly very few laughs. But what there is — potent drama revolving around marital infidelity among a group of four young adults — is good, for at least most of the movie. I dare say that Woody should have kept the running time closer to his usual 90 minutes (most of his films are that length), but overall I enjoyed it. If you're a red-blooded American straight male and you don't find yourself as taken by Scarlett Johansson as Jonathan Rhys Meyers' character, well, then there's something wrong with you. Rhys Meyers, for his part, makes a fine lead, though some of his actions do strain credibility (Woody's fault, not his). B+ for this one.

No Weeds Here

I never did get to see The Constant Gardener when it was in theaters, so tonight I watched the screener DVD that's been sitting in my apartment for about a month and a half. Despite watching it on my couch — never my preference, compared to in a theater — the movie still had my attention. Rachel Weisz is excellent; the film is full of exotic, African locales; and the story is a well-told political thriller, similar to Syriana but a heck of a lot less complicated. In brief, I really liked The Constant Gardener and would recommend the film for anyone looking for a good rental (it'll be out on Tuesday). I'm giving it an A.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good Movie, My Brother

The Squid and the Whale is one painful movie. And from that pain it generates some laughs, but it's not pretty. Right from the get-go you're embroiled in the thick of a marriage on the decline and you watch as things get worse, the parents separate, and the kids take sides. Jeff Daniels gives a fantastic performance as the messed-up father whose superiority complex and comments about uncultured Philistines makes you feel like if you don't like this movie, then you're one too. Thankfully, I liked it. B+

Friday, January 06, 2006

New York, Schmew York

There's nothing like a list to get people talking, and New York magazine's recent list of the 123 Things to Love About New York has inspired a great rebuttal by blogger Jonelle about the 123 Things to Love About Boston. Wanted to provide a link because it's worth reading.

Of course, Jonelle's list got me thinking about the reasons why I love Boston. So here goes with a few reasons why I love this city:

1. Because of Patriots Day: Not just that we get a day off on what is usually one of the first really nice days of the year, but also because the general great mood in the city resulting from the marathon is infectious and exciting. Additionally, there's nothing quite like the period a half hour after the winners come down Boylston St., when the rest of the runners turn that corner to a thundering ovation from the crowd. I love being a part of that every year.
2. Because like 'em or hate 'em, the college kids keep Boston perpetually young
3. Because only those who live in L.A. think four seasons are overrated (Ya hear that, Todd?)
4. Because there's really only one thing you can count on: When the weather gets worse, the T service gets worse
5. Because no one can ever take away how exciting the two weeks of the 2004 ALCS and World Series were
6. Because of the Chicken Milanese at Al Dente in the North End
7. Because I can never take enough pictures of 500 Boylston St.
8. Because brunch at Johnny's Luncheonette in Newton Center kicks any other brunch's ass
9. Because we're only an hour from Providence, where Waterfire is one of the best things to do in the summertime
10. Because of Cindy Fitzgibbon, who brightens my day even when it's cold, cloudy, rainy, or snowy outside
11. Because the $12 seats at Fenway are infinitely better (and more fun) than those for double the price in the Grandstand
12. Because of the Boston Metro hawker in South Station who always greets people with the same "Free Metro, good morning."
13. Because if Jennifer Garner will marry a local boy, then there's hope for me too
14. Because the MFA once had a Wallace & Gromit exhibit
15. Because you can't walk along the river in New York (I mean, you could, but why would you want to?)
16. Because of the AMC Fenway movie theater: best presentation of movies, worst parking lot
17. Because even a single guy like me never feels truly alone here
18. Because of Friday night walks from my office to the Hynes Convention Center T stop
19. Because areas like Brookline are suburban, and yet still 10 minutes from downtown
20. Because of Ezra's column in the Improper Bostonian

Alright, that's all I've got for now. I'm sure I'll think of some more and maybe I'll just add them to this posting. But while I'm at it, what's on your list? What did I forget?

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Please Click Here

An old friend of mine from my summer camp days, Doug Gordon, who I've mentioned a couple of times on this site, has written a book called The Engaged Groom. Many of my friends are already married (some with child or children), but perhaps there are some out there reading my site who are newly engaged or close to being engaged. If so, check out Doug's book. If you're already married, be a pal and click on the link for Doug's book anyway. And if you're not even close to being engaged, please still click on the link for Doug's book. (It's a contest. If I refer enough people to the web site for his book, Doug will send me an autographed copy.) And if you're interested, Doug did a chat yesterday on Boston.com. Here's a link to the transcript.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A Plug in (and for) the Globe

I found out not too long ago that my blog was quoted again today in The Boston Globe's "Sidekick" section. Now, I'm not one to complain (alright, maybe I am), and I'm really appreciative of the folks at "Sidekick" for quoting me as often as they have, but I wish those responsible would have chosen a different entry this time. The posting they quoted from — just about in its entirety — was the one from Monday where I commented on the Globe's story about the increasing number of millionaires in the Boston area. It's a good plug for the paper, in the paper. Still, I'm happy for the exposure (really, I am) ... even if not too many people seem to read the "Sidekick" section. Otherwise, I would hope that someone might have told me about it before I saw it on my own at a newsstand around 8 p.m.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Need Some Mulch?

Alright, enough with the Florida-related postings, I know. But I have one more topic I wanted to write about. One of the things that really surprised me last week was just how much damage Hurricane Katrina did in south Florida, and how much of it still hadn't been cleaned up. The area around where my grandmother lives, already depressed and older looking, was marked by crumbling stone signage and a great many tree stumps. You could now see greater distances from one place to another than you ever could. Worse, I think, were the trees that were ripped from the ground; many of the stumps haven't been righted (which left large holes in the ground) and the spaces had not been cleaned up. Aside from being an eyesore, it was just dangerous. Over by my parents' place, about 20 minutes away, there were large piles of trees and branches, sitting right off the golf course, just waiting to be ground up into mulch. I know that Katrina left a lot of damage in its (her?) wake, but the way the story has been reported, you'd think it was all in New Orleans or the neighboring areas. Sure, life in south Florida wasn't affected nearly as much as it was in other places, largely because the damage in south Florida — while significant — didn't compare to that in New Orleans. But considering Katrina hit four months ago, seeing these things, and seeing them just sit there like an accepted part of life, was like a lingering reminder that there's still a lot of cleanup work to do in more places than most people realize.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Clearly, I'm in the Other 19

According to the Boston Globe yesterday, the number of millionaires who live in the Boston area is expected to surge 50 percent over the next five years. Specifically, this means that the number of millionaire households in the region will increase from 58,000 in 2004 to 88,000 in 2009. Apparently, one in 20 households is already a millionaire. Who knew?

The story says the increase is most likely to affect Baby Boomers, those who work at a financial services company or a law firm, or in the technology industry, and those who have numerous liquid investable assets, so I guess I'll be staying in my current tax bracket. And something tells me the city is going to get a bit pricier to live in — never a good thing for those of us who aren't millionaires.

Still, I'm an optimist, and I'd hate to think I'll be left out of such a development. So I'm hoping that any day now someone is going to appear on my doorstop with a giant check à la Publishers Clearing House. It's a good thing my apartment is clean.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Very Good Place to Start

To quote (sort of) the great thinker Michael Jackson, "You wanna be startin' somethin'? You've got to be startin' somethin'." And you'd have to agree that ain't no time like January 1 to be startin' somethin'.

So, I'm happy to announce that The Great Clean-up of 2006 — step one in "The Great Reinvention of Martin Lieberman" — has begun. The top of my dresser is now clean and my laundry bags are now empty. Of course, this means that my closet and some drawers of my dresser (particularly those containing socks and t-shirts) are now over-stuffed. But small steps, people. Small steps.

Today I hung up a ton of shirts and pants that had accumulated over about a month and a half, probably more. That's a lot of clothes. And thank God for Brooks Brothers' no-iron shirts or else much of it would be wrinkled. Also, I'm ashamed to admit that one of the two laundry bags (full of now-clean clothes) included a mix of loads that were at least three months old — though it's likely some were closer to five. Oh yeah, and I also threw out a bunch of junk — including old issues of magazines — and picked up a lot of dust bunnies off the floor. All told, a very productive day.

One of my New Year's Resolutions this year is to take better care of my apartment. Today I tackled the dresser, laundry bags, and floors, not to mention the magazines that were strewn across my coffee table. Next comes going through my clothes and either throwing out or donating old stuff I don't wear anymore (depending on what state they're in). After that, I'll finally tackle the clutter, whether it's the stacks of mail on my kitchen table, the magazines under my coffee table (again), or my multiple bookshelves, DVD rack, and CD collection. And somewhere in there, I plan to hire a professional cleaner to make this place shine once again. (Anyone have any recommendations for a cleaning person? Seriously.)

If you know me at all, you know that this is quite an ambitious plan (if you can even call it a plan), especially since I'd love to have much of it done by February. But perhaps by putting this in writing and not just saying it, I'll actually get something done for a change. As I said, you've got to start somewhere.

It's Good to Be Home (Not)

This was Friday in Florida. Mid 70s, not a cloud in the blue sky. Ahhhhh ...

This is what I woke up to today here in Boston. High 20s, snow, grey skies. Yuck.

Does this mean vacation's over?

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It's Too Early

Nothing says "Happy New Year" quite like the sound of your building's super loudly shoveling snow off the walkway outside your window before 8 a.m.

In second place, nothing says "Happy New Year" quite like your neighbor's radio alarm going off, playing Backstreet Boys and Linkin Park (among other chestnuts) ... and she's not even home to turn it off.

Happy New Year, indeed. (grumble, grumble, grumble)