Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Marty!

Just a quick posting to say Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!

In honor of the day, I've decided that when the saints go marching in, I, too, would like to be in that number.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Buy Rent

After watching the DVD of Rent this weekend, I'm happy to report that I have a bit more enthusiasm for the film. As you may recall, I didn't exactly love Rent when I first saw it last November. I felt that the film had serious pacing problems that made it feel long, and the decision to cut one or two key songs eliminated all the emotional impact. But now I've watched all the deleted scenes and the full two-hour documentary, and I've played the movie straight through (admittedly, it was more like background music since I wasn't watching too closely) and I can honestly say I don't hate the film as much as I did. Sure, I still think director Christopher Columbus was wrong to cut "Goodbye Love" (which you can watch here, along with some other clips), and I actually like the alternate ending more than the one that's actually there, but as a lasting memento of a musical I love, I could do a lot worse than this movie adaptation. And it's worth noting that the documentary feature is actually quite good and worth watching, even if you think you know everything about Jonathan Larson and Rent. So there's my ringing endorsement, without a lame "it's a good rent-al" pun. Oh wait ...


Sunday, February 26, 2006

I Guess I Just Didn't Do It

I suppose it goes without saying that I never joined the gym. If I had, you'd surely have read about it here. My heart just wasn't into it, and I took too long to act on my initial enthusiasm. So, I took that as a sign that it wasn't meant to be and I decided not to join.

In fact, I let a few things slide in February: I was set up with a woman, went out with her and another couple, and then didn't follow-up when I got her email address. I had a bad week at work and I let my frustrations show a bit too visibly. My apartment has started to get a bit messy and cluttered again. I actually haven't done my laundry in a month — which would be pretty gross if I didn't have enough clothes to go another week without doing it. Hell, I didn't even see a movie all month. And, against all my better efforts, I got sucked back into American Idol.

But that all stops here. I'm declaring February an "off" month. In March I will get back on the horse. I went out with another woman last week, and I'm not going to brush this off so easily. I'm going to clean up my apartment (again). I'm going to try and focus better at work so I can reach my professional goals. And no, I'm not going to join the gym, but that's alright. I'm going to be more realistic about setting goals I can actually achieve.

It's a couple days early, but Happy March.

When Am I Going to Get Mine?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy buying gifts. I think it’s a fun creative exercise of sorts, and a test of how well I know someone or what they’d like. And I think I’m good at it — usually — or at least I’m told I give great gifts. For example, I was supposed to go fishing a couple weeks ago with a friend of mine for his birthday. The trip didn’t work out, so I bought him fish of a different variety, the Swedish kind. And I also have no problem buying a bottle of wine or something when I go over to someone’s new house or apartment, or spending extra if I find a gift I particularly like, even if I know it won’t be reciprocated. Similarly, and please don’t get me wrong on this point especially, I am happy for all my friends’ marriages, births, and other special occasions.

That said, while I was wandering around the mall again yesterday in search of yet another birthday present for one of my friends’ children, it reminded me of that classic Sex and the City episode, “A Woman’s Right to Shoes.” The episode begins with Carrie doing some registration shopping. First to a kitchenware store, then to a baby store, then to another store and another. And then she has a disastrous time at a baby shower. And Carrie’s frustrated by all this because no one ever buys anything for her, and in the case of the woman whose shower it was, Carrie estimates that she’s spent more than $2,300 on this woman's engagements, weddings, babies, and other occasions alone.

“If you got married or had a child, she’d spend the same on you!” Charlotte tells Carrie.

“And if I don’t get married or have a child, I get bubkes?” Carrie asks back. “Think about it. If you are single, after graduation there isn’t one occasion where people celebrate you ... Hallmark doesn’t make a ‘congratulations, you didn’t marry the wrong guy’ card. And where’s the flatware for going on vacation alone?”

“We have birthdays,” Charlotte replies.

“We all have birthdays,” says Carrie. “That’s a wash.”

So yesterday, just like I have had after buying gifts for other friends for their engagements, weddings, etc., I had what I guess some people would call a Carrie Bradshaw moment where I briefly had this thought of, “When am I going to get mine?” Yesterday I was buying a gift for the son of some good friends so I didn’t mind it. But I can’t even begin to think about how much I’ve spent on gifts for other people, like those who got married and then did the whole couple thing, retreating into their domesticity, spending time only with other couples, and forgetting their single friend Marty almost as a way of closing the door on their own singlehood. Or the people who invited me to weddings that I had no intention of going to, and yet I still bought them a gift because that’s the right thing to do and all. I actually have one friend who I haven’t seen since the day of her wedding, a year and a half ago. It’s not like I can’t afford the gifts, and I certainly don't begrudge my friends their happiness, but still ... When it’s finally my turn (and considering I’m 31, I sure as hell hope it’s soon), how many of these people will return the favor?

Yes, I write this rant only half-seriously, but I think Carrie was onto something in that episode when she registered for a wedding to herself, just so she could have this woman reciprocate and buy her something she wanted. Maybe for one of my upcoming birthdays (i.e.: this year or next), if my social status doesn’t change, I’ll register somehow. Can I register at Best Buy, for example? Let’s see ... I’d like a new iPod, a plasma TV, surround sound system, a digital video camera ... you get the idea. Is that so wrong?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Back to Filene's

Apparently, many of you out there were interested in my shopping experience at Filene's last weekend, so I thought I'd offer up a quick update since I tried out another store today, the one in Chestnut Hill. And I'm not saying I found anything different there (still an overabundance of small- and medium-size clothes), but I didn't walk out of this store empty-handed.

Full disclosure: last week and this week I went to Filene's at least partly hoping to find myself an argyle sweater, and I've had no luck in that department. So perhaps it was the lower discount (40%–60%), or maybe I just had more patience or a greater determination to buy something this week, but I found myself a rugby shirt, a tie, and a sweater vest, and the whole thing cost me only around $60.

Also worth noting was the selection of labels. A liquidation sale is a great time to see just what the hierarchy is in a department store. Not much remained in the Ralph Lauren or DKNY departments, for example, but there was plenty of Bahama Joe and John Ashford. Club Room, too. Expect this stuff to be available for 50%–70% off next week.

And I suppose I'd be accused of not telling the whole story if I left out that after Filene's I went downstairs to Brooks Brothers, where I found a pretty cool argyle sweater on sale for 50% off (which at Brooks Brothers is a really sweet deal). So I bought it and called off the argyle search for the time being.


Monday, February 20, 2006

He Knows How I Feel

It says something about where my head's been lately that I was just watching VH1 (or MTV) and a brand-new video came on that hit a chord (no pun intended). The song/video is Daniel Powter's "Bad Day," off his self-titled CD (which is available at iTunes). In the video, a young woman (played by Samaire Armstrong, from The O.C. and Entourage) and a man go through their near-identical daily routines, while Powter (in full piano-driven ballad, singer/songwriter mode) plays and sings to the camera. Of course, for most of the video they're oblivious to the fact that someone else shares their pain, but they meet at the end. It's not the most uplifting song or video, so it sorta bummed me out that I could relate in a more ways than one — including the fact that it appears one day during the guy's week, he actually wears a tie to work. Thanks to my DVR, I rewound it and watched a second time, had a similar reaction. And thanks to Powter's web site, you can watch it as many times as you like. Anyway, if the video or song should come on next time you're flipping the channels, stay there for a minute and take it in like I did. Good, sad stuff. Chances are you'll be hearing this one a lot; it has sensitive pop hit written all over it, sort of like Gavin DeGraw.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Much Ado About Something

I don't often blog about political topics — for good reason — but I just wanted to express how annoyed Meet the Press was making me this morning. All week I was simultaneously laughing at the Dick Cheney story (tuning into The Daily Show every night), and bristling at how easily Cheney was getting away with it. And this morning, on MTP, it just seemed to typify everything I hate about the Bush Administration and its handling of the situation.

First Mary Matalin said that Cheney took his time to comment because he wanted to sort out the confusion. Excuse me? He shot someone. That's black and white. And his silence only fueled the confusion. Then Matalin called the whole thing "much ado about nothing," a point she repeated time and again. Is she kidding? The vice president shot someone. Sure, maybe in the grand scheme of things it only affected the victim and the vice president and their families, but when you're the second in command, that's not "nothing."

NBC News Chief White House Correspondent David Gregory, who was sitting next to Matalin (and who had gotten into verbal sparring matches with White House press secretary Scott McClellan earlier in the week), questioned her about how Cheney had an obligation to disclose this to the people — a point that was supported by a Time magazine poll showing 65% of Americans thought he should have taken immediate responsibility. Matalin's response? "It strikes you as odd because you live in a parallel universe. It did not strike Americans as odd." Huh?

Columnist Maureen Dowd was also on the show, and yes, she's a staunch liberal and no fan of Bush, but she pointed out that not only did Cheney shoot his friend, but he also blamed his friend for being shot. Matalin didn't even acknowledge this. And then Paul Gigot, of The Wall Street Journal had the gall to say, "You know, sometimes people make mistakes, human mistakes. And this is one of those cases where I think we ought to treat it in human terms." Dude, the vice president shot someone!!! When you're the vice president, you can't just call that "a mistake." Thankfully, this was Dowd's reponse: "I think reporters would have had a lot of empathy for the vice president if he hadn’t sent people out for four days to blame the victim.... I’ve learned a lot about hunting this week. And the thing I’ve learned is that the shooter bears total responsibility for where everyone in the party is before he shoots, and they shoot abreast, not while someone’s fetching a duck. So for him to send all these people out to blame this guy for so many days was not appropriate."

Near the end of the segment, Gregory made the point I wanted someone to make, which was: what would the Republican response have been had it been Al Gore who had done this? I for one know that they would have come out with guns a-blazin' (pun intended). Suffice it to say, neither Matalin or Gigot gave that a straight answer. Instead, they took the opportunity to point out that Gore was in Saudi Arabia this week making false statements about the Bush administration, which, they seemed to imply, was a worse offense than shooting someone. (And the fact that Hillary Clinton was also critical this week gave Matalin the chance to take a cheap shot at her too.)

It just drives me crazy how Republicans use this overconfident, haughty, privileged, out-of-touch, insulting, do-no-wrong, "who, me?" and I dare say in the case of Matalin, downright bitchy style, to evade situations like this. Matalin and Gigot repeated numerous times that it wasn't even a story, and that the press should have been concentrating on things that mattered. "Let’s distinguish political events of no consequence to the nation from those that are," Matalin said at the end. If Cheney had misspoken or done something harmless, that'd be one thing. But he shot a man, which led to him having a heart attack, and the administration acted like it was no big deal. To me, and to many others, this was a big deal.

As I said at the start, there's a good reason why I don't often write about political topics on my blog, but this just bothered me. It's times like these that I'm reminded why I support Democrats. These people make me sick.


Art is Art is Art ... I Guess

There's a truly weird photo gallery of the year's "Great Performers" in today's New York Times Magazine. It's a bit disarming because this time of year, we're so used to seeing actors and actresses photographed in what can only be called Glamour Shots, or at least ones that portray them "working." But the photographers here are going for some bizarre looks, using body paint and other effects to create what can only be called "artsy fartsy shots." Not sure I like many of these (Charlize Theron excepted), but they're worth a look because they're so startling and different.


Where Are All the Small Men?

The real problem with the liquidation sale at Filene’s isn’t the fact that the “sale” prices in some cases have been higher than normal sale prices were before the liquidation started. Nor is it the picked-over selection of remainders. It’s the fact that all the small men in New England seem to be unaware it’s taking place. That’s the only realistic explanation I can think of to explain why everything I went to buy yesterday in Burlington and today in Downtown Crossing was unavailable in my size (XL). On the other hand, there was plenty of clothes available in S and M. It made two shopping excursions rather unproductive.

Unless, of course, the small men are smarter than I am, and they know they are in the minority, so they can wait to shop at Filene’s until the prices go down even lower. After all, right now the sale is only 30-50% off. Next week it’ll likely be 40-60% off. It must be nice to wear a less common size of clothing.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Putting My Past Behind Me

On the T this morning, I saw a guy I went to camp with back in the day. I'm not sure exactly what his first name was — he had a brother who wasn't exactly an identical twin since they were a year or two apart, but looked pretty similar — but suffice it to say, we sat directly across from each other, and after an initial quick eye contact, I put my eyeballs back into my issue of Entertainment Weekly without ever acknowledging him. (And for the record, he didn't acknowledge me either.)

Of course, I considered saying hello, especially since this was not the first time we had seen each other on the T, or the T platform at Park Street. But I decided it wasn't worth my time or effort, because back when we were younger, this guy wasn't especially nice to me and just generally wasn't a good guy. Now granted, when he knew me, I was a much wimpier, dorkier kid (no comments, please) and I suppose I'd have made fun of me too if I was him. But that was, like, 15 years ago. If I consider myself to be a totally different person from how I was when I went to camp, which I do, I'd hope he would be similarly different. And like me, I'm sure he's a better person nowadays.

Still, I was stuck in 1991. For example, the fact that I couldn't remember this guy's name, but I still remembered him by his nickname. A similar thing happened two weeks ago when I bumped into another camp acquaintance at COSI. While we've seen each other plenty of times and have been much friendlier, I was still inclined to call him by his nickname, which was funny back at camp (especially considering he had a younger brother, and they were "big" and "little" versions of the nickname) but isn't so much now when we're in our 30s. (For the record, I called him by his actual name.)

I guess I just have a tough time letting go of the past sometimes. But I'm getting there. The other day, as I walked by a framed collage of pictures from my 5-year college reunion, I glanced at a picture of an old, unrequited crush. And after thinking about how our relationship has turned out over all these years, with her not staying the least bit in touch, I finally thought to myself, "What did I ever see in her?" So for the first time in many years, I actually felt like I was over her.

Lesson is, I need to be better about keeping my past in my past. So perhaps it's time to move on with this guy from the T, and next time I see him I should just say a friendly hello. After all, in the name of my own self-PR, why shouldn't I let him spread the word to whoever he's still in touch with that I'm doing well? Isn't that the best revenge on someone who was cruel to you as a child? And it's not like I've been carrying these bad feelings toward the guy for all these years. They just come up whenever I see him. And especially if every summer I say I want to drive up to New Hampshire and visit the campus, partly to change how I feel about the place.

But until then, I suppose the door to my past will continue to creek open every so often. I have to be better about keeping it shut.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I Hope You All Get VD

I tried. Really I did.

Call it denial if you want, but I really was trying to keep a positive attitude for Valentine's Day today. I wore a red sweater, I wished people a happy holiday, I went to my favorite take-out lunch place (the Italian Cafe, on Broad Street), listened to my favorite music, and I generally was in a good mood.

But you know what? Work, in all its varying forms, got in the way. Things I had planned on didn't materialize. People gave me attitude when I tried to understand their confusing emails. It all added up and turned really annoying. And then some people who should know better started to tell me about what good boyfriends they had, and how I could learn lessons from them, and suddenly I got all crabby and pissed off. Yes, I know to send flowers to my girlfriend on Valentine's Day. Don't you think I would have done that if I had a girlfriend? No need to remind me that I'm single — again, sigh, still — thank you very much. And then I ended up being in the office until around 7:30, because God forbid I should have a life outside of work.

So ... a hell of a day. But, the good news is that another Valentine's Day has come and gone. Emphasis on gone. Thank God it's over. Yes, when it comes down to it, I really hate Valentine's Day.


Token Dose of Valentine's Day Humor

True story: This morning I was telling a coworker that I have a date tonight, with myself. Just then, another coworker walked by and said, "I know your date. Make sure you wear protection."

Not sure why I'm sharing that story. Just thought it was funny.


The Greatest Love of All

So here are my thoughts about Valentine's Day: If you're single, like I am, that's no reason to be mopey and hateful and resentful of all those out there who do have someone special in their lives. Instead, spend the day like I do: spend it doing things you love. Have a good breakfast, go to your favorite lunch place, email and/or call some of your favorite people, watch a favorite movie, listen to your favorite music, eat dinner at your favorite place, eat sweets (including, as I do, a nice piece of cake), and generally, just be good to yourself. Because really, as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young said, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."

And that's my token cheesy sentiment on this Valentine's Day 2006.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

This One Writes Itself

I suppose the old adage is true:
Guns don't shoot people, the vice president does.

Since We've No Place to Go

I love how on blizzard days like today, the news reports are always the same: "There are treacherous conditions out there, the wind is howling, snow is falling at a rapid pace. It's a good day to stay inside and off the roads ... Now let's go out to our reporter in Natick!" Followed minutes later by: "Now, out to Plymouth!" And later: "Up to Burlington!" Then "Out to Newton!" And everywhere, it's the same story: Snow, and lots of it.

Well, in that spirit, I can tell you "It's snowing in Brookline!" Finally. We're going to get close to 20 inches. Can't say I'm all that bummed since we haven't had a storm like this all season. I've got work to do, some food I can bake, and maybe I'll even purge some more of my books, so I'm going to make the most of the day. In the meantime, I went outside at 10am and took some pictures just in case you, like some news watchers apparently, need proof that it's really snowing here too.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Unfortunate Photo of the Day

"Look ma, that's me standing right next to Jessica Simpson! Look at how awful I look! Isn't it, like, so cool?!"

Poor girl. I'm sure this photo (or a version of it) will be in all the tabloids, since it shows Jessica a day or two before the Grammy Awards, going to meet up with her supposed new boyfriend, Adam Levine, of Maroon 5.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cover Up

One might think a single straight male like myself would be excited by the sight of both Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson posing naked on the cover of the new issue of Vanity Fair. But check out poor Keira: She's looking rather gaunt. Yuck. I suppose Scarlett looks alright (I've never been a huge fan), but what would have been great was if Rachel McAdams had decided to join them. (According to reports, she refused to pose nude.) Anyway, I'm concerned for Keira. I suppose it's not cool to make fun of unhealthy-looking thin people, but I guess I can take some degree of comfort in the fact that it's Oscar season, and I'd imagine Keira will be attending a great many parties to celebrate her nomination for Best Actress. Let's hope she eats something.


Monday, February 06, 2006

I'm Guilty

Confession of the day: I think I love Lisa Loeb's new show on E!, #1 Single. Sure, any show that professes to honestly portray what it's like to be single and dating is a bit skewed, especially if the subject is a celebrity (C-list or otherwise). But the second episode, which aired this weekend (or rather, which I saw for the first time this weekend), was pretty funny, and not in the same kind of demeaning way that many reality shows about dating are. Lisa's a smart (she went to Brown), single, attractive and Jewish girl in the city, who wants what every nice, Jewish girl wants: a husband. She's got a meddlesome Jewish mother, a supportive sister ... and suffice it to say, I can see myself tuning in every week if every episode has a scene like the one this weekend where Lisa went to dinner at Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's house and there were crickets when they realized she was 37 and still single. It's a great guilty pleasure. Anyway, that's my plug. New episodes air Sundays at 10 p.m., but like any good cable network, E! repeats them all throughout the week.


Just Another Manic Monday

You ever have one of those days ... ?

Checked my work email around midnight last night, got a bit of an angry rant from a coworker who was traveling on business. So I came in today expecting the worst. First hour or two in the office was pure damage control, trying to fix a seemingly crisis situation. We're talking defusing a bomb. Code Black, if you saw Grey's Anatomy last night. But then something happened. Suddenly my coworker, the one who had written the rant, was going out on a limb, disregarding all logic, and trying to defuse the situation in a way that defied all sane reasoning. And you know what? It totally worked. The man is a master of spin. So over the course of the day, things turned downright surreal. All of a sudden we were mostly in the clear. Our hyper-reaction this morning (an appropriate response at the time, given the tone of the email) began to seem like a complete over-reaction. And that crisis we were dealing with was deemed nothing more than a "bump in the road." As we were told, "If there are no bumps in the road, then you're not trying hard enough." It's after 6pm and I'm still stunned by the turn of events. Talk about a range of emotions.

My apologies for the unspecificity of this posting, but given that it's a work thing, hopefully you'll understand. Just wanted to say I'm baffled, confused, turned sideways, and utterly exhausted by the day.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


You know what sucks about cleaning up? Not being able to find something you need. It was so much easier when all my crap was out on my kitchen table and all over my apartment.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Just the Song I'm Looking For

Just wanted to say thanks to the guy who stood next to me on the T this morning who was playing his iPod so loudly that I could hear it clearly. Click Five's "Just the Girl" is a fun song to hear while riding a crowded train on a rainy Friday. Who needs a magazine when you have that playing?

(Sarcasm or no? You be the judge.)


Thursday, February 02, 2006

What Should Rachel McAdams Do?

Thanks to whoever runs What Would Tyler Durden Do? for those great pics of a glammed-up Rachel McAdams. Before today, I just thought she was cute. But now ... well, let's just say all of a sudden I actually want to see the next James Bond flick.

And by the way, if you like a daily dose of catty celeb gossip and awesome photography of said celebs — and really, who doesn't? — this is a really good site.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Web Find of the Day

I assume most of my readers have seen "Lazy Sunday," the digital short that aired on Saturday Night Live before Christmas. Now there's a West Coast sequel costarring Mark Feuerstein. It's called "Lazy Monday," and you can watch it here. Enjoy!