Friday, March 31, 2006

I Got a Kick Out of Him

Sure, the show took place at the Opera House, and sure Jamie Cullum is a contemporary jazz-pop singer, but the concert this young Brit gave Thursday night was anything but a subdued affair. The first indication was the fact that Cullum walked on-stage chugging a Full Throttle energy drink. After that, it was the music that did the talking. And sure, it took maybe three songs for Cullum to hit his stride, but once he launched into "Twentysomething," the two-hour-and-fifteen-minute show was on cruise control.

To single out specific songs as favorite moments would be pointless, although "What a Difference a Day Made," "Nothing I Do," "Frontin'," and "London Skies" were all great, as was a duet with opener Brandi Carlile on "Rocket Man." Cullum even did a fun medley of hip-hop songs (jazzed-up, of course) that included Ne-Yo's "So Sick" and Amerie's "1 Thing." Perhaps the one obvious omission was "Mind Trick," one of my favorite tracks off Cullum's current CD, Catching Tales. (You can hear it at his site on I also was disappointed he didn't play "My Yard." But the stomping on the piano keys was there, as was Cullum's ratty appearance, playful banter, and athleticism. And the Opera House's acoustics made it all sound great. This was my first time in the building, and man, what a great venue.

It's just a shame that so many people missed so much of the show. I don't know what was up with the crowd. Every other minute, it seemed, someone (or two people) would get up and go out for a drink, or to the bathroom, not even waiting for the end of a song or an opportune moment. It was the most restless audience I've seen in a long time. And given the show's location, the moving around was more pronounced — and annoying to those of us who were enjoying the show and didn't ever leave.

Jamie Cullum isn't a household name yet, and admittedly, his CDs — good as they are — really don't do justice to how great he is live. But I can't recommend him highly enough. He deserves repeated play on your CD player (or iPod) if he's not already programmed in.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

I'm Walking the Line

This year, for the first time since I was in eighth grade, I’m participating in WalkAmerica. It’s on April 30, starting at the Hatch Shell in Boston. Yes, this means I’ll be walking six miles, and I am not at all worried about that. It’ll be no problem, as opposed to when I did the walk when I was 13 and could barely finish. (Aside from my youth, the snacks along the route didn’t help much.)

Anyway, WalkAmerica is an event sponsored by March of Dimes that seeks to raise funds for research in the fight against birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Continental Airlines, whose inflight magazine I am the managing editor of, is a national sponsor (we wrote about their participation in the March issue), so some folks from my company and I are participating to support the cause and our client. (If you’re reading this and will also be walking, we’ll be the ones in the blue Continental t-shirts.)

I always feel awkward asking for donations from people because everyone has their own preferred causes and financial demands, but I thought I would just post something here in case any of my readers wanted to make a donation to support March of Dimes. If you do, I thank you. Any amount is appreciated. All you have to do is click on this link and follow the instructions. As an incentive, my company will be matching any money raised, so a $25 donation from you is really a $50 donation, for example. You can also sign up to walk or volunteer to help in other ways if walking or donating money aren’t your thing.

Thanks again in advance.


Gone Surfin'

I've had some thoughts about different things I've watched on TV in the past few days...

* I love the new show Sons & Daughters. Best way to describe it is to say it's like The Office, except it's about a family. By that, I mean it's funny in that painful way The Office excels at, and it's not sitcomy (i.e.: no laugh track). My favorite character on the show is Carrie, the sarcastic daughter (or niece, I suppose, if you base everything around the lead character, Cameron). She always gets the best lines and has a perfect sardonic delivery. But, like, here's an example of the humor on the show: On this week's episode, the grandmother is taken to the hospital because she apparently had a heart attack. It turns out to just be angina. So the whole family gathers in her room, and the high school age grandson, who is a smart-ass but dumb as a brick, says to her, "How's your vagina, Grandma?" Cracked me up. Sons & Daughters airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC. They show two episodes every week.

* The reason Lost appears to have dropped in quality this year is because of episodes like last night, which was another above-average Locke episode. His episodes are always better than the others (no pun intended). Cool stuff going on in the hatch. And it's these kinds of episodes that make the "average" episodes (like last week's, about Jin and Sun) seem not as good. And in other news, sucks to be Harold Perrineau, doesn't it? His character went off in search of his son months ago, and hasn't been seen since. And there's no acknowledgement of his whereabouts, either, like no one cares. Are we to assume he died, or will he be back by season's end?

* What About Brian?, that new show starting in April on ABC looks like it's right up my alley, if not a little too true to life. Can't wait to watch it and wallow.

* Bar none, the best news show out there is Keith Olbermann's nightly Countdown on MSNBC. The guy's got a sharp wit, and a great tone. And I love the way he beats up on Bill O'Reilly most every night.

* Felicity is the new 90210. Time was, I'd wake up on Saturdays and Sundays and plop myself on the couch until noon, watching the 90210 reruns on FX. Then they went off the air and I got a life. Well, now that Felicity reruns are on Saturday mornings on the WE channel from 10am to 12, I'm back where I was, lifeless. But I'll tell you, when that show was good, it was really good. And Ian Gomez (Javier) was one of the more underappreciated actors when it was on.

* It's funny how there are just some movies you can sit and watch all the way through on cable, and if you go out and buy them on DVD, you never have the patience to watch them. Like Pleasantville (which I own, and is still in the plastic) or The American President. Sunday night I found myself watching My Best Friend's Wedding. All of it. And yet, if it was in my DVD collection, I'd never watch it.

* I'd mention American Idol, but really, what for? It was pretty bad this week, and Lisa Tucker getting voted off was no big surprise. And actually, now that Kevin Covais is gone and Chris Daughtry shows signs of vulnerability, and all the finalists seem so uniformly average, I'm losing interest.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Least Surprising News Story of the Day

Time For Some Change

On the way into work this morning, I stopped in at the Dunkin’ Donuts at One Summer Street to grab a muffin. Quick and easy. But something on the other side of the counter was amiss. Despite the fact that the register wasn’t showing the right amount, I had purchased muffins before so I knew to give the woman $1.50. When she looked at me with a straight face and asked, “How much do I give you back?” I asked her to verify how much the muffin was. She replied $1.37. And I guess Dunkin’ Donuts employees aren’t trained on basic mathematics, so she didn’t know I was owed 13 cents. But for a split second, I thought the choice of how much money I got back was mine, and I could have said I was owed $7. Or $3.60. Or $5.75. Or $20. Or whatever. And because her feeble mind couldn't handle such simple arithmetic, she would have given it to me! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha ... !

Monday, March 27, 2006

I Ate, I Screamed

It’s just past lunchtime on Monday and I can safely say I am finally ready to eat again.

Joe, Marie and I resumed our Ice Cream Tour of Boston yesterday by heading to Celebrity Pizza in Watertown. But it was closed (until “springtime,” whenever that is), so we headed back over to Cabot’s in Newton. Yum. Of course, this was also a lunch plan, so we all had “real” food first. And after a cheeseburger and fries I was pretty well sated, but I went ahead and ordered a sundae anyway. (A “regular” sundae, which I learned was not a small but a larger size. Ooops.) Mint Oreo ice cream, chocolate mellowcreme fudge, marshmallow fluff … and what the hell, sprinkles too. Mmmmmm ... And if you’ve been to Cabot’s, you know they make some of the best, messiest sundaes ever. (That's the marshmallow dripping off the right side there.)

Well, I took one look at that thing and was stuffed already. But onward I trudged, digging my spoon in repeatedly and doing my best to eat as much as I could. At one point, as I struggled, Joe (who had simply ordered apple pie a la mode) offered this wisdom: “You go to lunch with the appetite you have, not the appetite you want.” With that, I put down my spoon. Joe was right and I was done. And for those who keep track of such things, I had barely eaten half.

After we separated, I had intended to go to the movies or, at the least, to Shaw’s to do my weekly grocery shopping. But I was so stuffed that I sat like a stone and aside from pacing around my apartment, barely moved. I never even ate dinner. When I woke up this morning, I was still not very hungry. But now, I think I’m ready to eat again ...

... If only I had time to eat today.

(And thanks to Marie for documenting that monstrous sundae, and my happy reaction before I got too far into eating the sucker.)

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

O for Okay

Went to see V for Vendetta last night with Amy and John. Good, solid entertainment. I'll never hear the 1812 Overture without thinking of London exploding overhead (what an ending). And while I was a bit confused by some of the relationships, I'll give V the benefit of the doubt and say my head was elsewhere and I missed the explanation. Oh, and of course, the movie has Natalie Portman, who I've become quite fond of in recent months.

V is a high-falutin' comic book movie that aims to make grand political statements — "Behind this mask is a man, and behind this man is an idea. And ideas are bulletproof" is one line spoken by the masked terrorist, simply named V. "People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people" is another — but there's so much of that kind of talk that it's a bit amusing when such lines are spoken. Another curiosity is the fact that V has this ornate and rather large underground lair, and yet the government, which is supposedly this all-knowing dictatorship, has no idea where he's hiding out. And it's not nearly as grand or exciting a movie as, say, Batman Begins, but seeing V for Vendetta is certainly not a bad way to spend two hours. I give it a B for ... well, not for bad but for um, bang.


Friday, March 24, 2006

I Can Think of 99 Better Ones

Who doesn't love the 80s? But do you love the 80s enough to watch the video for "99 Luftballons" (aka "99 Red Balloons") over and over for a solid hour? If so, tune in to VH1 Classic this Sunday at 2 p.m. EST and you will have your chance, thanks to a $35,000 donation by a viewer. Of all the videos in history — or even the 1980s — that's the best this person could choose? What about Michael Jackson's "Thriller?" Or Prince's "Purple Rain?" Still, for kitsch alone, that's a pretty good choice. I mean, at minimum, it's better than Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."

(Hey, what do you want? It's been a slow and not particularly blog-worthy week.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ace Is a Hole

I’m not sure what I’m sorrier for: the fact that I haven’t been posting all that much over the last week and a half, or the fact that this is a post about American Idol. You see, as much as I’ve tried to avoid it, I’m now completely back on the sauce. Last year I was able to go the entire season without watching a single episode. This year I have a series recording set on my DVR. Oh well.

So for better or for worse, embarrassment be damned, here are my thoughts on last night’s show … We all know Kevin Covais should go home. We all know Lisa Tucker will go home. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Ace is the worst one of the bunch. I’d love it if he received the lowest number of votes and is sent home tonight.

Just watch the guy when he’s singing. He looks like he’s shell-shocked. Like he was playing a joke, thought he’d coast on his looks alone, and is freaked out because he doesn’t know how much longer he will get away with it and when he’ll be revealed as a total fake. The guy can’t sing all that well, inserts his lame falsetto just to win a few extra votes, and just generally sucks. So if we could vote on who to kick off, Ace would get my vote. Yes, even over Kevin Covais, who I think we just have to live with for a couple more weeks despite the fact that he looks 12 and is clearly being out-classed and out-sung by most everyone else. Some folks make it to the finals just to bring in ratings, talent be damned.

And while I’m writing this lame entry, what the hell is up with Paula Abdul? Is she even watching the same show that the rest of us are? How can she love each and every performance unconditionally? Simon is right: this is a singing competition, not one about who looks the best or dances well. And If Randy says someone “worked it out” one more time, I may have to scream.

Who’s going to win? Well, expect Chris Daughtry and Katherine McPhee to be in the finale. That’s no shocker. Mandisa won't make it, but does it matter? She's better than all the other contestants anyway and doesn't need this competition. And sometime really soon, Kelly Pickler's idiot routine will tire itself out. Sigh ... I just wish I didn’t care so much and feel so invested. And for the record, none of them are half as good as Kelly Clarkson was.

P.S. I’m loving that the send-off montage each week is set to Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day,” which I’ve been a fan of for a month or so, before y’all were hearing it on your radio dials. I told you that song would be big.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

Feeling Blue

Damned Comcast gave me another faulty cable box. When I turn on my television, all I get is a blue screen. Because I've had some kind of a problem for about a week now, I've unplugged and replugged-in my box a couple of times, as I'd been directed to do before. And usually it worked this week, even if sometimes it was only briefly. But today, the box seems to have completely died. I can't seem to fix it, and I'm going to have to go to the billing/service center in Allston to switch boxes — that, or wait around my apartment for someone to stop by (no thanks).

I suppose it wouldn't be such a big deal if this wasn't the third DVR cable box I've had in about a year and a half. And that's just with Comcast. When I had RCN, I never seemed to have good service. At least Comcast is nice about it, believe it or not, even if I don't like what they tell me. And by switching DVR boxes, I'm losing the whole season of The Office, which I had recorded, not to mention the five episodes of Alias that I never saw, and all kinds of other programs I had hoped to save for a while. When I spoke to the customer service rep on the phone today (the second of two, that is), and she matter-of-factly told me I just had faulty equipment, I asked her, "Well, why are you giving out bad boxes?" For what it's worth, she said the boxes are tested before they're given out, so Comcast doesn't know the boxes are broken until they break. (I suppose that makes sense.)

Suffice it to say, it appears I'm not fated to have decent cable service from any local company. Nor am I fated to watch The Sopranos (because Desperate Housewives is a repeat) or Grey's Anatomy tonight. Oh well.


Man of the People

As celebrity sightings go, I suppose this one was pretty minor. But it was still kinda cool to see city councilman Mike Ross grab a spot in line behind me at the self-check-out line at Shaw's on Commonwealth Ave. this afternoon.

In all the hub-bub of the 5pm crowd, you don't expect to see someone like Mike Ross amongst the shoppers, much less on the self-check-out line. But there he was: just as cool and slick as he looks on TV, but taller than I expected, and a heck of a lot tanner. (I'm guessing he recently came back from a vacation. Must be nice.)

I was standing there, watching a clueless older woman try her hardest to figure out the machine so she could check out with her two items, wondering why I always get stuck behind these people, when Mike Ross swooped in, seemingly from out of nowhere, grabbing some flowers and something else he'd left on top of the machine while he stepped away. (Nice.) Nonchalantly, like it was no big deal, he stepped behind me and got in line. And when this woman finished, and I stepped up, I felt powerful knowing I was the only thing preventing Mike Ross from checking out and leaving the store. (Alright, I didn't really feel that way. In fact, I'm not sure why I even wrote something as dorky as that.)

Mike Ross watched as I deftly used the machine, scanning my items one by one, with no errors and no commands by the machine to rescan or check my bags, and getting it all done in what must have been record time. Except for a small panicked reaction when my slice of cake tipped over, I was in prime form. I'm sure he was impressed. (ha ha ha)

At the same time, I was intrigued and a little bit amused by the fact that no one but me seemed to recognize the guy. I mean, it's not like he's Mayor Menino or Ted Kennedy or anything, but the guy does represent many of the people in the supermarket — even if they are college students. So you'd think some of the folks would know who he was. And it was Sunday, a day off, so there was no need for him to introduce himself or make a thing out of it. So, he just checked out and headed on his way like he was any other shopper. (Unfortunately, I can't tell you how good he was at the self-check-out. That's because I am not a dorky stalker and didn't stick around to watch.)

Anyway, the message is this: Mike Ross is just like you or me. He goes to the grocery store in the middle of the Sunday rush and scans his own stuff. Good man, that Mike Ross.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

He's Having a Party

Altogether, Dave Chappelle's Block Party is a really great, really fun, really upbeat, really exciting movie. But I think for me, it's a movie made up of great individual moments. Like Kanye West's performance of "Jesus Walks." Or The Fugees' reunion. Or when Erykah Badu's wig nearly blows off. Or when a guy in a store apologies for cursing and Dave says it's alright, "this is a movie." Or when a Dayton, Ohio woman is packing for her trip to New York and she wonders what to wear to a rap party, saying "I should have bought a thong." There are almost too many to mention, and they all add up to something really great.

There's no hidden meaning here, no larger purpose other than a good time, and for two solid hours, that's what you get. I mean, Dave doesn't even say why he's throwing the party; he just throws it. (I'm talking about in the movie. Much has been written about it possibly being a way to give back after his huge deal with Comedy Central.) The musical performances are great, Dave's hysterical, and everyone — on- and off-screen — has a good time. The movie gets an A–.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What I Like About Her

Alright, so this posting may make me out to be a giant perv, but I can't help it: I loves me some Amanda Bynes. Her cherubic face, her smile, her girl-next-door charm, her comedic skill ... the girl's just dreamy. How appropos that she's on a TV show called What I Like About You. For me, it goes back to when she was in Vanity Fair, which remains one of my favorite issues of all time. So I was really excited to see her new film, She's the Man, tonight. Really. And it's not just because of how good she looks on the movie's poster.

I won't make too much of a big deal about the film because let's be honest, it's not Shakespeare — even if it is based on a Shakespeare play (really — Twelfth Night). Amanda's character masquerades as her brother in order to play soccer, and in the process falls for her roommate, the team captain. All the expected plot twists follow. The movie has plenty of Amanda Bynes charm, and she's fun to watch, but it's not as good a movie as What a Girl Wants was. Now there is an Amanda Bynes classic. If you see that movie and don't fall in love with the girl, well, then you just don't have a beating heart. I think it has to do largely with the fact that here, she's essentially playing a boy for much of the movie. It conceals just how attractive she is. In What a Girl Wants, she looks downright hot. (And she's 20, thank you very much.)

So ... She's the Man is fine and cute and harmless, and I was smiling from start to finish. If it's not Grade-A Amanda Bynes, then so what? I'm sure when it's on cable, I'll still watch it over and over and over again ... just like I do each and every time What a Girl Wants comes on. I'll give She's the Man a B–.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

End of the Line

My inbox this week has been full of people’s cold remedies (plenty of water, Goldenseal, and something called “garlic mush,” for example), but today I got this message:
"Is the well so dry that you have to subject your readers to your ceaseless whining about your head cold? Honestly! It's that time of year, get a grip. Let's put it in perspective: would you find my ramblings about migraines at all compelling??"
So consider this my last posting about my cold. Why? Well, the emailer would have you believe it was because she wields enormous influence over me (ha!), but it's actually because I’m feeling better today. Sometime last night during dinner (at Masa in the South End. Yum), there was a clearing. Was it the spicy food? Possibly. Was it the loud noises that forced their way into my head? Could be. Was it my strong desire to hear discussion on the other side of the table? I wouldn’t doubt it.

Whatever the reason, my head congestion ended, and now, hours later, my cold is on its final breath. Ha ha! You thought you could defeat me, cold, didn’t you? Well, it may have taken me longer than I wanted, and you may have put up a strong defense against my various remedies, but I have won out. You are beaten down and I am victorious. And now I will enjoy a fun weekend.

Let this be the last I write about colds, flus, viruses, sneezing, runny noses, and head congestion for a long time. Amen!

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I Don't Get It ...

... the movie I hated the other night is the same one Ty Burr gave three-and-a-half stars to in today's Boston Globe. I'm all for a difference of opinion, and I generally respect Ty Burr's take on films, being a longtime reader of his from back when he was on staff at Entertainment Weekly, but come on ... Game 6 really is not a very good movie. And it's definitely not that good.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hulk Big. Hulk Very Big.

I'm not sure why, but I'm really quite intrigued by this photo of Lou Ferrigno, best known as the Hulk from TV. Look how huge this guy is!

And that's my random posting for today.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Adding Insult to Injury

When you're like me, and you've gone more than a month without seeing a movie, you hope that the first one you see is going to be good. Well, Game 6 is not. Tonight I went to what was apparently the film's premiere, not just in Boston but anywhere. The director, Michael Hoffman, was in attendance, as was one of the producers and what I guess were a few VIPs, since there were some reserved rows that weren't for the press. And there was an after-party at Game On! that I got invited to. After seeing the movie, I had no interest in celebrating.

Game 6 is an independent movie starring Michael Keaton that takes place on October 25, 1986: the day of both the infamous penultimate World Series game between the Red Sox and the New York Mets, and the day that in the film, Keaton's character's latest play opens on Broadway. Keaton, supposedly, is a die-hard Sox fan who is prone to failure, and who waxes philosophical on failure and the Sox and how he knows they're going to lose tonight, despite being up three games to two. Basically, the movie is episodic in nature — there's the scene with his friend, then the scene with his wife, then the scene with his daughter, then the scene with the actor, then with the producer, etc. etc. — and none of it amounts to much. For a die-hard Sox fan whose team is on the brink of ending what was then a 64-year curse, Keaton sure isn't all that excited. Nor is he all that involved with the fact that his play is opening. And there's this line of dialogue, "This could be it," which is clearly supposed to be a less-than-subtle message about hope and possibility, etc., and you'd criticize it for being lame if it wasn't so pointless in context.

And just when you think the film can't get much worse, there's an extended sequence — what I would think would be the central scene — that takes place during the game, involving a cab driver, her grandson, and Keaton's character. It takes place in perhaps the quietest bar in all of New York City. During Game Six of the World Series. Despite the place being packed with fans. And no one seems to notice that Keaton's rooting for the Sox, albeit in a minimal fashion. And the kid seems to be the least interested in the whole thing out of everybody. A kid! With his team in the World Series. And he's in a bar on a Saturday night! Doesn't anyone care??

And then, just when you think it couldn't get any worse than that ... Well, suffice it to say, before the game, Hoffman took a couple of questions from the audience. One person stood up and asked, "Couldn't you do something about the ending?" This was before seeing the movie, when the person was referring to the ending of the game. The movie ends a couple hours after the game does, and man, is the last scene contrived. Turns out Downey and Keaton's character have something quite important in common (I'll let you guess what it is), and despite the fact that — and I know I'm ruining it here, but you really don't care, do you? — Downey's just been making out with Keaton's daughter, and that he's the most hated, most feared critic in all of New York, the two bond and become friends. Hoffman explained that folks like Keaton and Bebe Neuwirth and Robert Downey Jr. and Catherine O'Hara did the movie, getting paid just $500 a day, because they loved the material. I can't see what attracted Downey to the film, based on this last scene. It's downright painful.

Game 6 is going to get a limited opening here in Boston and in New York soon before going wider in the next few weeks, and it'll probably be greeted with some kind of fanfare here because of the Sox connection and all (there was a channel 7 news crew interviewing people after the screening). But despite the way the game ended up for the Sox (and in the spirit of full-disclosure, I'll admit to being a Mets fan in '86), I'd say the movie makes it worse. This film gets a D. It's probably not even worth this review.


Well Don't I Feel Stupid Now

If you're interested, the doctor told me today that I do not have a sinus infection. I simply have a cold. So he told me to buy some Afrin and if things get worse — if things get worse? — he'll give me an antibiotic. Great. Gee, thanks. Now I really feel silly.


Bad Luck, Good Luck

Did anyone else happen to see the accident in Coolidge Corner this morning? When I got to the corner of Beacon and Harvard around 8:45 a.m., two cars had gone over the Boston-bound left side sidewalk, with one of them landing right on the T tracks. Wish I had my camera; it was quite a sight.

Needless to say, one man's misfortune is another man's good fortune. T riders were diverted to the outbound platform, where they were told a shuttle bus would arrive to pick them up. But there was already a shuttle bus there, seemingly heading outbound. I asked the driver where he was going, he said he was heading inbound and was about to turn around. So I got on, got a seat, and made it to work with little delay. Meanwhile, the hordes of other T passengers were left stranded on the platform because they didn't realize the shuttle bus they were waiting for had already arrived.

Still, that was some accident. How fast must a car have been going — on Beacon Street in Coolidge Corner of all places — for it to not just go up on the sidewalk, but to knock down the railing, go through the bushes and land on the T track. And what was up that this accident involved not one but two cars seemingly right behind the other?

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Looking for a Miracle Cure. Again

I tell you, the cold and flu remedy industry is the biggest racket. I've been sick for a week, and I've tried about four different remedies. Everyone has their favorite, and I've asked around. Started with Nyquil (only, and at night), took that for a couple days, then on Saturday I switched to Tylenol Cold Relief. And then yesterday, I switched to Sudafed. And my nose is still runny and my head is still congested. It's safe to say that none of this crap works. I mean, it's not that I feel sick — which, I suppose, is the bonus of the situation — but I sure wish I could stop high-tailing it to the bathroom every hour to blow all that "stuff" out. And I wish I could hear things clearly, instead of the muffled way I do now.

Today it was recommended that I get a saline spray, so I did, and despite my wariness, I shot a spray up both nostrils. So far, it's alright. But I'm not sure I did it at full blast enough to make a real difference (20 minutes later and I already have the sniffles).

Regardless, enough is enough. I also made a doctor's appointment today for tomorrow afternoon. People at work called me a wimp for doing it because they too are sick and have been dealing with it for longer than I have and blah blah blah ... well, I don't want to carry a cold as long as they are. I already wasted one weekend inside, sitting on my couch. This weekend I want to go places. And until then, I want to be able to concentrate at work without being so distracted. I want — hell, I need an antibiotic, or something stronger and proven and reliable so I can stop blowing my nose and can get back to normal.

I estimate I've spent about $25 on this cold already, and while that doesn't sound like so much added up, when you're spending $5.99 on one thing, and then $3 to replenish the O.J., and then $1.50 on another box of tissues, and then another $6 for another medication ... well, you just want something that works so you can stop making nightly runs to CVS. As I say, the cold and flu remedy industry is a racket and it's sucked enough money out of me already.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Everyone's a Winner!

Some quick Oscar reactions:

* I got 16 out of 24 correct. Not bad. Of course, I was happy to get Best Song wrong.

* Crash winning Best Picture was an upset, sure, and I was shocked. I figured Brokeback had it all pretty much sown up. (Didn't everyone?) I mean, It's not like Crash is a bad movie or anything (hello, Shakespeare in Love), but even given how Lions Gate was aggressively marketing that movie in the last few months, I never thought it would pull out a win.

* Best Acceptance Speech: George Clooney, by a mile. That guy is just the most well-spoken, most intelligent, most underrated guy in all of Hollywood (despite his three, some would say four, nominations). Damn, was I impressed. No wonder I'm such a huge fan.

* Three 6 Mafia won. That was too funny (and totally cool). But what was up with the "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" production number? Truly bizarre stuff. Whole lotta "witches" jumpin' ship? Where ... in Salem? And those dancers? Huh? How come Dolly Parton didn't have any backup entertainment?

* Brokeback Mountain, Crash, Memoirs of a Geisha AND King Kong all won three awards. That's a pretty even distribution. No one film dominated.

* Jennifer Garner. Yes, I saw her trip. I even chuckled. Poor Jennifer. But it was still good to see her back in action.

* I turned quickly to the TV Guide Channel's preshow to hear this comment from Dolly Parton to Joan Rivers: "Are yours all real? There's not a real thing about me except my heart." She then added, "You've known me since I was a B-cup." That was when I quickly turned back to the E! preshow. Joan Rivers makes Guiliana DePandi seem so much more tolerable.

* Kudos to David Letterman for taking part in the opening montage.

* Bravo to Jon Stewart. Thought he did a really good, really different and unconventional, job. At times it was almost like he was too hip for the room, but I laughed the whole way through. And kudos to him for not overdoing the Brokeback jokes.

* Best dressed: A tie between Hillary Swank and Jessica Alba. Second place: Sandra Bullock.

* What was up with Jennifer Lopez's makeup? Otherwise, she looked great too.

* Can we call a moratorium on all penguins talk from here on out? I mean, really — did the producers and directors of that film have to bring up those stuffed animals when they won? And on a similar topic, does this mean we can all move on from Brokeback and all the Brokeback jokes now that the Oscars are over and it didn't win Best Picture and now it's yesterday's news?

* Really liked the M. Night Shyamalan AmEx commercial. Weird stuff, but it's pretty cool compared to other ads out there.

* In general, this was the best Oscars in years. It hardly ever dragged, and it was thoroughly entertaining. I mean, really — no one expects the show to actually be over in three hours. And even if you took out two or three of the montages, you'd only be cutting out about 5 or 7 minutes.

* So to borrow and expand upon Jon Stewart's thought, let me get this straight: Three 6 Mafia are Oscar winners, and Eminem is also an Oscar winner from a couple years back, but people like Robert Altman (not including his honorary one), Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorcese, and Paul Giamatti are not? Hmmmmmm. It's always interesting to put things in perspective like that.

* No kidding, I'm a bit bummed the Oscars are over. As much as the Oscars are overexposed and overhyped, as a movie fan, it's one of my favorite times of the year, and now it's a bit of a let-down. When do the summer movies start?

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Movies I've Seen

Here's a list of all the 2005 releases I've seen. (click on the link for my review)



3. HITCH (B)






9. CRASH (B+/A-)






15. MR. & MRS. SMITH



18. WEDDING CRASHERS (twice) (B+)






24. RED EYE (D+)




















44. WALK THE LINE (twice)

45. RENT


















Friday, March 03, 2006

If I Picked the Winners

Since I never did write up a list of my favorite movies of 2005, I figured it was only right for me to post some of my picks for this Sunday's Oscars. I don't have strong feelings in many of the categories, and I feel like a good number of them are already pretty well set (which doesn't generate much interest in picking your own winner), but here goes anyway in a few of the ones I have an opinion about ...

Best Picture
Who's going to win: Brokeback Mountain
How I'd vote: Toss-up between BBM and Munich. While the latter film resonated more with me and would have ranked higher on my list, Brokeback has had the longer-lasting emotional impact, and I saw it twice. As good as it was, I have no real interest in seeing Munich again.

Best Actor
Who's going to win: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
How I'd vote: It'd be cool if Terrence Howard won, but I'd agree with the Academy if they chose Hoffman. He really was great, and he's way overdue for some recognition.

Best Actress
Who's going to win: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
How I'd vote: Wasn't particularly blown away by Witherspoon or Felicity Huffman, so this one is also a toss-up for me. Because I enjoyed Walk the Line more, however, I'd give my vote to Witherspoon.

Best Supporting Actor
Who's going to win: George Clooney, Syriana
How I'd vote: Tough call again. Despite my allegiance and loyalty to Clooney, and my liking of Syriana, I'd really like to see Paul Giamatti get some long overdue recognition.

Best Supporting Actress
Who's going to win: Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
How I'd vote: Weisz was the best thing in a great movie. She'd have my vote too. Still, even though I didn't like her movie, I think it'd be cool if Amy Adams won.

Best Documentary Feature
Who's going to win: March of the Penguins
How I'd vote: Murderball was my favorite movie of 2005, the only one I actually wanted to be longer. So I'm really rooting for it here.

Best Original Song
Who's going to win: "Travelin' Thru," Transamerica
How I'd vote: "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from Hustle & Flow. Let me put it this way: If this song doesn't win, there'll be a whole lotta bitches jumpin' ship.

Best Original Score
Who's going to win: Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain
How I'd vote: The score for BBM is great music that can be listened to on its own without the movie. I'm hoping John Williams' two competing scores cancel each other out with the voters.

Otherwise, here are my other picks:

Best Animated Feature: Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Best Art Direction: Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain
Best Costume Design: Memoirs of a Geisha
Best Director: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Best Documentary Short: The Mushroom Club
Best Editing: Crash
Best Foreign Language Film: Paradise Now
Best Makeup: The Chronicles of Narnia
Best Animated Short Film: One Man Band
Best Live Action Short Film: Ausreisser (The Runaway)
Best Sound Editing: King Kong
Best Sound Mixing: Walk the Line
Best Visual Effects: King Kong
Best Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain
Best Original Screenplay: Crash

So there you go. Oh, and one last prediction: Jon Stewart is going to rock. I can hardly wait.

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It's All in My Nose

Called in sick and stayed home from work today. Got a bad case of the sniffles. Really, I'd be much better were it not for the fact that I'm sneezing a lot and blowing my nose constantly. Nyquil is helping me sleep at night so I'm not tired, and my achiness is gone. It's my damned nose that's trailing. And that's making me feel worse. Yuck. If I was going to stay home from work on a Friday, I'd rather do it when I could actually enjoy the day. Today isn't going to be much fun at all. Maybe I should go to Shaw's and get some chocolate cake...


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is Zathmary's Clozed?

Stores in Coolidge Corner seem to close often enough that when another shuts its doors, it’s hardly newsworthy — much less blogworthy. But something’s up at Zathmary’s, and I can’t seem to figure out if the store has closed for good or what. All week, the delivery trucks have arrived, dropping off the daily breads, newspapers and produce, and leaving them right out front or just inside the front door. And there they stay. When I pass by at night on the way home, the place is empty, half the lights are off, chairs are still stacked on the tables, display cases still empty. And despite the fact that it’s now Thursday, and there’s food that’s been sitting out since Monday, I’m surprised there’s no sign or anything in the window to announce the store’s closing or what the status is. Nor is there anything on the store’s web site.

In the hierarchy of Coolidge Corner shops, if there is one, Zathmary’s has to be near the top. It’s got a central location right across from the movie theater, it’s nice, reliable, and distinctive. There was always freshly-prepared food and a decent salad bar, with other gourmet offerings available as well. And even if I hadn’t patronized the store in a while, it was nice to know the option was always there. And, it's local and not a chain (even though there is a second location in Needham). Given the neighborhood and how busy the store usually was, I’d be really surprised if Zathmary’s really did close. For now, however, I’m just left wondering.

Update, 12:00 — There's a story in the Brookline Tab today. Zathmary's has closed. Long live Zathmary's.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

In the Grip of the Grippe

I guess it’s my turn. Again. Some horrible cold has been making its way through the office over the past couple of weeks, and I suppose when the people I work closest with get it, it’s only a matter of time before I do too. So, today I felt gross. Didn’t sleep well last night and I’m tired. Got a runny nose. I’m achy. No appetite (never ate lunch). I'm irritable. And I'm actually looking forward to watching American Idol tonight. You know the symptoms, and you’ve read about them here before, so I won't go into it again.

Why did I think that because I had a cold in December I was immune now and for the rest of the season? Isn't that how it works? And when is this cold snap going to pass???