Tuesday, May 30, 2006

... Because It's Broken

Sigh. So breakups are never easy, and sometimes they're quite painful. The Break-Up is one of those. At the end of it you're mentally drained from having Vince Vaughn yelling at you and from watching Jennifer Aniston just completely beaten down and emotionally spent. (What, you expected this to be a happy movie? Silly you. It's called The Break-Up!) The film is so meanspirited and negative-toned that you don't even want this couple to get back together, unlike in some other movies with a similar plot that are sweet at their core. Sure, there are some good lines, but Vince Vaughn doesn't seem to have the same wickedly funny but good natured streak he had in Wedding Crashers. Here he's just cruel and stupid, and nowhere near loveable. And while it's good to see him and Jon Favreau back together on the screen, ultimately, all I could think of was: man-oh-man, did Jon Favreau ever get heavy. So that adds to the sad feeling after seeing this movie. I mean, yeah, Jen does looks great. And I got a good chuckle from Justin Long's performance. But because the movie is 10-15 minutes too long and at times it's just not funny (and not in a failed way), I'm still giving The Break-Up a C+.


Weekend Review

Mitzi and Jason were in town this weekend, so we played tourist. Thankfully, the weather cooperated, and I think it’s safe to say we walked more than 10 miles in total, seven and a half of them on Sunday alone. Some highlights of the weekend:

* No wait whatsoever at two of our favorite places, Johnny's and Al Dente. We did, however, have to wait about an hour at Zaftig's on Sunday morning. What a surprise.

* Mitzi said my apartment was the cleanest she's ever seen it. Not sure if that was a compliment or what.

* Went to the JFK Library and New England Aquarium. Enjoyed seeing all the fishies and turtles and penguins and took many many pictures of said fishies and turtles and penguins until I found the right flash settings

* Walked from the Aquarium all the way back to Coolidge Corner. Who thought WalkAmerica would be hard?

* It really is a small world, after all

* Johnny Cupcakes sucks

In short, a good time had by all. Going to work this morning sure was tough.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What a Waste!

If Boston magazine is looking for a new category for its annual "Best of" issue, might I suggest "Best Misuse of Prime Real Estate." I even have a winner. Yesterday was the grand opening of Johnny Cupcakes, located at 279 Newbury Street (at the corner of Gloucester Street). Sounds cool, right? A cupcake store right on Newbury Street! Yum. Suffice it to say, Mitzi and Jason are in town, and the three of us were excited to check the place out today, especially since we heard that yesterday there was a line out the door. But in what is either a collosal waste of a good brand name or a genius way to attract and mislead customers, it seems the company has forgotten one important thing — the cupcakes! Instead, Johnny Cupcakes is a clothing company, and all the stuff is shown in bakery-like display cases. To say we were let-down is an understatement. We were disappointed. We felt gypped. Swindled. Horn-swaggled. And the clothing wasn't even all that cool; it was of the $40 designer t-shirt variety, the kind of stuff that's not even attractive. What a waste.

Here's what I'm hoping: Once word gets out about this sham of a store, the people of Boston will join with me in boycotting this Johnny's "cupcakes" until he begins to actually sell cupcakes, or until he changes the store's name. Who's with me?

Update, 6/18/06: Just an Urban Legend?


Back in the Globe

Just a quick post to let you know (if you're interested) that my blog's been quoted in the Boston Globe again. It's a reference to my recent posting about the T driver who was afraid of a spider.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bike Me

For the second day in a row, I was nearly run over by a bike rider on my way into work. Same thing happened both days: I got out of the T at the corner of Summer and Washington Streets, and just as I stepped off the sidewalk someone zipped right by. Yesterday the woman yelled out, "Look where you're going!" Today the guy just zipped right by without saying anything. Now, it's not like I was alone or acting absent-mindedly or anything. And sure, yesterday I was on my cell phone. But is it too much to ask bike riders to ease up as they ride through Downtown Crossing at 9 a.m. when the area is mobbed with people commuting to work? There's no reason to ride through at a top speed and then criticize people who get in your way. I think in these cases, I — and all other pedestrians — definitely had the right-of-way.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

X: Why See

Alright, so X-Men: The Last Stand is a big, exciting summer movie, full of action and big, important speeches and cool special effects. But it's a bit darker (visually) and colder than the previous two X-Men films, and it doesn't have the same, I dunno, heart that the other two had. In fact, this one feels more functional, more run-of-the-mill, more routine, and more blunt. Which is a shame, because as comic book movies go, the X-Men films have been better than most. They all deal with prejudice, but this one feels the most heavy-handed, thematically. Still, X3 does have its moments of fun, including the final battle sequence, so I'll give this third film a B — for Beast, because that character is a trip. How funny it is to see Kelsey Grammer bulked up with blue fur and makeup.


All Signs Point To ...

Alright, so the television season is now over (and man-o-man, what an awesome Lost finale last night), there's a brand new American Idol, the Red Sox are still in first place despite losing two out of three games to the Yankees, X-Men 3 opens tomorrow, it's a beautiful sunny day here in Boston with temperatures in the 70s, tomorrow begins the Memorial Day weekend ... I could be wrong, but I think it's summer! Woo hoo!

Last Idol Post Ever

... or at least, the last one this season.

If you didn't watch the American Idol finale last night but can appreciate watching a dorky guy who thinks he's "the next Clay Aiken" getting humiliated in front of an international audience — or, if you just want to see it again — then check out this clip. I literally had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The End Is Here

Damn that Katherine McPhee. Despite her awful performance overall last night — if I see her perform “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” one more time I’m gonna hurl — she’s got that KT Tunstall song ”Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” stuck in my head. And despite Simon’s opinion that Taylor won last night, and despite the fact that I don't really like either of the final two, I’d still rather Katherine win it all. If you don’t see them perform and simply listen to their voices, she’s got the better, more pleasant one. (And if you do have to watch, well, she's darned perty.) I just wish she and Taylor weren’t saddled with those God Awful first singles. (If you want to download MP3s of last night's show, go to this guy's blog, which I found this morning. And if you want to hear a real singer, the guy who should have won, click here.) Ugh. I'm still so pissed at myself for getting sucked in this season.

Anyway, the TV season ends tonight at 11pm (after Lost) and summer begins tomorrow, as far as I’m concerned. I can hardly wait.


Sunday, May 21, 2006

10 Things

Hey there. So since I was blogging about The Ten Commandments not too long ago, and I was just tipped off to this really funny mash-up, I thought I'd post it here so y'all can take a look. Just click on it to play, or go to YouTube.com and watch it there. Enjoy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Love This Dirty Water?

And you thought the Charles River was unsafe. At least it's not filled with Sunny D, like this river near London is. Poor fishies.

Click here to read the story: Fish killed as soft drink leaks from factory

Spiders Are Scary

True story: I was on the T this morning riding into work, and as we were nearing Park Street, waiting for the train ahead of us to move so we could enter the station, the driver started to get all antsy. Then all of a sudden, in one of those baby-ish/wimpy/annoying tones, she screamed out, “Spider!” and actually got out of her seat. Of course, this meant she had taken her foot off the break pedal, so we started to move backwards. She grabbed her copy of the Metro, ripped it in half, squashed the spider in one fell swoop — while at the same time making a sound of “Oh, thank God I killed that spider before it ate me" — and flung the paper across her compartment, as far away from where she was sitting as was possible. Then she sat back down, slammed her foot on the break — thus shifting the momentum of the train and causing those of us standing to jut forward — and pulled into Park Street.

Let’s hear it for the T drivers: Ready for anything — except spiders.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hot Damn

Finally, after a week of rain, the sun has found its way back to Boston today. It's a good thing, because there were a lot of unhappy people in town the past few days. This woman below must have lived next to one of them. Thanks to Universal Hub for the tip, and Evan for the screen grab.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I'll Console You, Addison

It seems all anyone can talk about today, or wants to talk about today, is the awesome Grey’s Anatomy finale last night. I don’t mind spending three hours watching one show over two nights when it’s as good as Grey's was this week. And now it’s going to be an agonizingly long summer until the show returns with new episodes … on Thursday nights! YUCK! Whose lame-brained idea was that? It’s opposite the new Aaron Sorkin show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is supposed to be incredible. Thank God for my dual-tuner DVR. I just hope it works.

Anyway, so Grey’s was really good — despite Katherine Heigel’s total over-acting. I mean, I can only imagine how many takes there were of that scene where she was bawling while lying next to Denny’s dead body. Otherwise, good stuff. And am I the only one out there who feels sorry for Addison Shepherd? She can run right to me if she needs consoling, now that Derek and Meredith seem to be on the road to another relationship. I've really come to like Addison this season, and I might spend at least some of the summer seeking out actress Kate Walsh's other work (even if that means watching Under the Tuscan Sun, the movie in which she apparently plays Sandra Oh's lesbian girlfriend). And on a personal note, my family also had a dog named Doc, and two years ago we had to put him down, so that scene was a bit sad for me too.

It’s been a good week of finales so far. I stopped watching The West Wing a couple years ago, but I still got wistful and nostalgic while watching the finale on Sunday. And The Office was great on Thursday. Idol is on tonight, there are two more episodes left of Alias and Lost, The Amazing Race ends tomorrow, and even the finale of Desperate Housewives on Sunday looks good. (Yes, I watch a lot of TV. What else am I supposed to do when this rain just won't stop?) Have I mentioned I hate the long summer break between new episodes of my favorite shows? Happy Summer ...


Monday, May 15, 2006

Perfect Timing?

My umbrella broke today. It happened right in the office as I was about to leave to go home. The top — the umbrella part, the part that opens up — separated from the pole, and I was unable to reattach the two parts. So as of 7:30 p.m. this evening, my umbrella is dead. Long live my umbrella.

Of course, this meant three things to me: one, the rain needed to stop, and it needed to stop immediately; two, I was likely going to get wet walking to the T and then home (despite bringing a hat); and three, I guess I need to go to my ten-year college reunion after all. Despite my desire not to play that "Oh, this is your husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/child? Great! And what are you up to these days?" game, if I want a new Brandeis umbrella, I need to suck it up and go. Yes, yes, I could just go out and buy a new umbrella, and I'm sure it'd be a better, longer-lasting one (though five years is nothing to sneeze at — that's how long this one lasted), but there's something about the blue-and-white Brandeis umbrella, the one they give out at our reunions every five years, that screams "must-have" to me.

Still, and more importantly, I think I've now reached the breaking point with this rain. It's enough. This weekend I drove two ways in it (back and forth to New York), and I've heard it beating down on the skylights in my office. I've packed onto a crowded T with umbrellas and stupid people. We've all done it. We've all endured enough. It's May. Hell, it's mid May. Even if this is Boston, it's supposed to be sunny and warm. This weather sucks. I've had it with the rain.

And worse, now I need a new umbrella.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Spring, Ahead

I figured since yesterday's postings now feel dated (not only did the Yankees win last night, but Chris Daughtry was kicked off American Idol), I needed to get something else up here quickly. Pickings are slim — I don't have a whole heck of a lot to say today — but I thought I'd pass along the exciting news that in the vote of pro and con, with everything else going on in the world today, The New York Times has enthusiastically come out in favor of Spring in today's paper. So now we know: Spring is good. Phew. That's a relief. I can only imagine the contentious debate this editorial triggered among the editors. Now, if only the glorious weather written about in the Times would come a little bit farther north...
(Thanks Doug for the tip, and Evan for the encouragement.)

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Round Two

After last night's game, I couldn't help but post this photo again.


Elliott Yamin Is the Man

Here's my new American Idol theory: Taylor Hicks is simply William Hung with more talent. They're both goofy and dorky and awkward, both difficult to watch for sustained periods of time, both can't dance, and really, can't you see Taylor recording a novelty album (or two or three — Taylor Sings Christmas Songs!, for example) after the whole thing is over to cash in on his gimmick appeal, just like William Hung did? So that's why I'm rooting for him (or Katherine McPhee) to go home tonight. I've finally had it with Taylor. And Katherine, well, Elvis' songs weren't written for a woman to sing in the first place, and she really didn't help her cause by over-dramaticizing (is that a word?) "Can't Help Falling in Love" and doing the totally clichéd, unbelievably cheesy "Hound Dog"/"All Shook Up" medley.

By contrast, I've been calling Elliott Yamin my favorite for weeks now (documented here), and I hope that last night's performances finally proved that he's worthy of being there — if not in the final two with Chris Daughtry, who looks unquestionably to be the winner at this point. Elliott's performance of "If I Can Dream" is one of the first performances on the show this season that I would truly like to own. It was really close in quality to Barry Manilow's own cover of the song, which has been the main way I've known it up till now. (Don't laugh. Barry actually does "If I Can Dream" really well. Go to iTunes and hear it for yourself.)

Still, last night's show was one of, if not the best one all season. It's going to be a close vote tonight. They're all just about equally good. That said, my support is fully in Elliott's corner now. When he goes, I lose interest in whoever's left.

So that's my morning-after Idol commentary.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Oh, Pedro. Where Have You Gone?

Have y'all seen the front-page — front page — story about Pedro Martinez in today's New York Times? If not, it's certainly worth a read. Here's a sample:

<< He is planting. He is pruning. He is talking to his tulips. "What about you, beauty?" he will ask in language rarely, if ever, heard on a baseball field. "Aren't you going to grow up to be so pretty?" >>

Classic stuff. Check it out.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Rescue Me

You know a movie's bad when you spend the bulk of it thinking of what title you're going to give your review. Hmmm ... "It's a Disaster?" "A New Low?" "Waterlogged?" "That Sinking Feeling?" Or maybe "Going Down." Well, whatever you call it — and I like what I chose — Poseidon is a pretty bad movie. It starts with the first shot of the boat, which looks totally fake and unbelievable. And it really only gets worse from there, with lame dialogue, forced acting, and a character whose actual name in the credits is "Lucky Larry" (I'll give you one guess if he makes it out alive). Perhaps the best part about the movie is how efficient it is; it takes just 5 or 10 minutes for the wave to hit and turn the ship upside down. Why get held up with all that pesky plot and character development, right? Hell, there's not even an impending sense of doom or a warning or anything. The wave just appears, hit the boat, and the movie gets underway with these characters you don't know and don't care about — and really, don't even like — trying to find a way out. But anyway, no need to belabour the point. The original Poseidon Adventure was no Shakespearean classic or anything, and I haven't seen it in years, but it was infinitely better than this waste of time remake. It's not even ridiculously funny bad, it's just bad. So, Poseidon gets a C– on the Martin Meter.


Keri Russell Kicks Ass!

Mission: Impossible 3 is alright. Tom Cruise is at his enthusiastic, speaking-with-such-forced-integrity, stunt-happy best, and there are some good action scenes, but all told, I wasn't blown away.

First off, it's funny to even call this the third movie in the Mission Impossible series. Since each film was directed by a different director and, with few exceptions, has a different cast, there's hardly any continuity between them. This one just felt like an action flick, independent of the series. In fact, were it not for the theme song, it probably could have been a big-screen, male-centered episode of Alias. I mean, the movie plays in a number of ways like an early episode of the show: Ethan keeps his real job a secret from those he loves, there's a kooky computer/IT guy, there's a torture scene that takes place in a dentist's chair in China, plenty of disguises, and oh yeah, even Greg Grunberg has a quick cameo (he is writer/director J.J. Abrams' best friend and J.J. puts him in most everything he does). The only real difference is that Tom Cruise doesn't kick ass like Jennifer Garner does. (Or did.) Which is not to say J.J. is a one-trick pony. He seems to have a knack for directing great action-oriented stories when he has the opportunity to, and isn't hemmed into a format like he is here (i.e.: Tom Cruise movie). So in that respect, it felt limited because if you're not rooting for Tom Cruise, then you don't really care what's going on.

But J.J. sure does right by those he loves. For example, in addition to Greg Grunberg, I have to say the best scene in the movie for me was the one early on when Keri Russell is thrown a gun and takes down some bad guys. Unfortunately, she's only on screen for a total of about 5 or 8 minutes, but as a longtime fan of Felicity, it was a real trip to see her shooting a gun with such precision and edge. It was the one scene that truly made me smile. Otherwise, while Philip Seymour Hoffman is good, he doesn't seem to be having enough fun. J.J. should have given him some better lines and some more screen time. And then threre's the mediocre Kanye West song that plays over the end credits. Ugh. In total, M:I3 rates a B– on the Martin Meter. You could do a lot worse.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

Food for Thought

I don't understand the Walk for Hunger. I mean, who is for hunger? Shouldn't the event be called the Walk Against Hunger?? Wouldn't that be a more accurate name? It's kind of like WalkAmerica. You don't actually walk America. Just six miles of it.

I'm just wondering. Don't mean to mock such worthy causes.

Friday, May 05, 2006


I’ll bet you didn’t know this, but Cinco de Mayo is one of my favorite holidays. No, it’s not because I have lots of Mexican friends and I respect their heritage. And no, it’s not because I love to throw back a good margarita every now and then. It’s because of the utter simplicity of the holiday’s name. I mean, who came up with the idea to name today Cinco de Mayo? All it means is the Fifth of May. But because it’s in Spanish, well, it sounds so much more festive.

I’ve been told that although today commemorates a Mexican military victory (over the French army), it is actually a minor civic holiday south of the border, and we Americans make a much bigger deal about it than the folks who should be celebrating. So in that line of thinking, I’d like to propose Septième Juin as a holiday. The exotic name just sounds exciting, doesn’t it? For those non-Francophiles out there, Septième Juin falls on the seventh of June. In my world it’s a very big and significant holiday, and quite similarly, I’ll be making a bigger deal about it than the people in France do. So there you go. Septième Juin is now an official holiday. Please mark your calendars. Who’s with me?

Thursday, May 04, 2006


alternate headline: Dad Was Right!

My sister and I often make fun of the fact that my dad, whenever he calls the cable company or a credit card company or any other customer service person, starts the conversation by saying, “First of all, thank you for your help.” His even-keeled nature is something I’ve inherited, but I’ve never quite developed an appreciation for the whole “kill ’em with kindness” thing he is such a fan of.

Well, last night I had to call Comcast (my chronic problem of turning on the cable box and getting a black screen needed to be dealt with asap) and for some reason, my natural instinct was to start the conversation with my dad’s “Thank you for your help” greeting, which I never do. About three minutes later, after I explained my problem, the guy paused me and said, “By the way, thank you for saying thank you. No one ever does that, or at least I’ve never heard it.” And he proceeded not only to help me with my problem, but also to give me all kinds of inside info about how I can get high definition reception on my less-than-HD television. He also told me that the fact that I’d had “only” five or six different boxes in a year and a half was actually good, comparatively, and that this summer Comcast expects to do away with these troublesome Motorola boxes altogether and introduce ones from new vendors (including TiVo). Further, he gave me the scoop that when Comcast initially introduced these DVR boxes, there was a supply and demand problem, so I should pay attention so I don’t get left out of the new devices. In total, I think I was on the phone with the guy for about 15 or 20 minutes just chatting away (sorry if anyone was trying to get through), and I walked away with a much better impression of Comcast than I had before. Now that’s customer service.

When I hung up, I realized that my dad was right, and being nice to the guy upfront paid off. That’s what I call an example of good karma, I guess, and proof that as always, though sometimes I don’t want to admit it, Father Knows Best.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Is It Spring Yet?

Over the weekend, I was discussing with Stephani the idea of forcing the seasons. She revealed to me that she’d recently moved her winter shoes to the back of her closet, and put her warmer-weather shoes in front. It’s not just a practical thing, she said, it’s psychological. After all, it’s May and even if the weather is still on the cooler side, it’s still springtime according to the calendar. I can buy into that, I replied, and told her that in a similar vein, I refuse to wear my winter coat until at least December 1 because every fall, I refuse to give into winter before I absolutely have to.

I’m posting this story because I feel like in recent years it’s taken longer and longer for spring to actually arrive, and quite frankly I’m sick of it. What happened to spring? It seems like we’ve gotten into a pattern of skipping over the season completely and going directly from winter right into summer. As spring is my favorite season, this simply will not stand.

Today, the third cold and gloomy day in a row here in Boston, I’ve done my part to force the season. At the risk of sounding like a girly-man, I’ll admit that I deliberately wore one of my brighter shirts — an orange, blue, green, white, and red striped one from the Gap — and it seems to be working. Aside from being told by various people that I look “citrusy” (as opposed to “fruity,” thank you very much) and that I can be seen from across the office, I can actually feel the weather changing. Through the skylights of my office, I can detect a clearing of the sky. The rain has stopped. And when I go out for lunch in a few minutes I’ll verify if, in fact, the temperatures are actually climbing.

Sure, this God complex is probably all in my head, and if I had only watched the weather report last night I would have known that regardless of what I wear and do, temperatures will be in the low 70s on Friday. But still, I think Stephani was onto something and that it has to be in my head if I want there to be a spring this year. If mother nature’s not going to cooperate, then I say, “Screw her.”


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Guy's Got Balls

I hate to be crass, but um, Derek Jeter does himself no favors by promoting the Yankees' "mini balls" on the cover of today's New York Post. What is he — and the team itself — thinking?

This One's For Evan ...

... and all the other Yankee fans out there.

(Thanks to Amy for the photo)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Purple Read

Another story of mine has gone live online, so I thought I'd post a link. I interviewed LaChanze, the star of Broadway's The Color Purple, for the May issue of Continental. Just click on the link to check it out. There's also a story about Martin Short, who'll be coming to Broadway in August. Someone else wrote that one, though.

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Walk On By

You probably could not have asked for a better day than yesterday for WalkAmerica. Skies were as blue as possible, with nary a cloud in the sky, temps in the high 50s (or low 60s — weather reports were conflicting), and a slight breeze off the Charles. I wore my track pants for the first time since I went skydiving. My company's team, in typical fashion, didn't wait to be told "go." Instead, we left 15 minutes before the official start time. The walk itself was great; no sweat, as predicted. When most of our group seemed to split up and splinter off into smaller duos and threesomes, Stephani and I stayed together. We finished the entire six-mile walk in just over two hours. At the finish line, there was all kinds of food waiting for us (good thing, because I was starved), including delicious cake from Montillio's (mmmmmmmmmm). And, to top it all off, I had raised $350 in advance, which will be matched by my employer. Thanks again to all who contributed. All in all (despite a minor sunburn), a great day. (Click on the pictures to see a bigger version of each one.)