Monday, October 30, 2006

It's the Circle of Life

I suppose it's nature's way that as one couple marries, another one should separate. Poor Reese and Ryan.

There Goes the ...

And then, at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, it was all over.

After 17 months of being engaged — and 15 years of not-dating dating, according to one toast — Mitzi and Jason are now married and the wedding is all over. And I have to say, in spite of all my mockery and comments, it was actually really nice. I mean, no expense was spared, but it was a classy affair, and just a really, really great night. I was impressed and many of the folks there said they were too.

To answer some basic questions, the guest list included 272 people, the colors were brown and pink, the bride looked amazing, the band rocked, the pigs in blankets were good but the burger bar was even better, I didn't sleep with any of the bridesmaids, I was told "you're next" just twice, I drank three shots and half a martini yet still stayed sober (they were clearly very weak drinks), the bride and groom danced to "When You Say Nothing at All" from the Notting Hill soundtrack, and my speech went off without a hitch — and I actually got some laughs. The paparazzi were out in force, of course (hey, that rhymes!), and you can see some of the pictures here. For any other details, you'll just have to ask.

Oh yeah, and as it turns out, the happy couple was, in fact, NYT–worthy. You can click here to read the blurb that appeared in Sunday's paper.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What Time Is It?

The nice thing about being lazy and not changing my clock in April is that when Daylight Savings Time comes around again in October, I'm all set. I knew there was a reason I never got around to fixing the time in my car ...

One Ounce Makes All the Difference

I learned a valuable lesson this weekend: four ounces of hair gel is just too much for one man to have. Both times at the airport, of all the things I had in my bag — shaving cream, a razor, toothpaste, etc. — the only thing that got confiscated was my hair gel. Apparently, three ounces is the limit, and God forbid you have one measly ounce more. Thankfully there are drug stores in NY so I was able to get more, but I mean, can you just imagine how styled my head could have been with that one extra ounce of gel? I could have been the best-coiffed guy on the plane!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Here Comes the ...

Alright, fine: I'll admit this posting only exists because I thought it'd be funny to show a still from Corpse Bride on the eve of Mitzi's wedding, especially since it's also Halloween weekend. But it also gives me a chance to say, publicly, how much I'm looking forward to the wedding — and I'm not just saying that because Mitzi reads this blog, or because I can already taste the pigs in blankets. I'm lucky enough to have a close relationship with my sister — she is truly one of my best friends — and I'm really happy for her. Hopefully I'll tell her as much in my toast tomorrow night, and hopefully I'll convey how special she is to me, but considering the toast is still mostly in my head, who knows what I'll actually say. Alls I know for sure is I can't believe the wedding is tomorrow. When Mitzi and Jason first got engaged almost a year and a half ago, it seemed like so far away (and some days it seemed like the day would never get here). But here it is and it should be a great time.

Of course, I'll be posting some kind of report (even if it's a brief one), but if you just can't wait, then head on over to the "Weddings & Celebrations" page of Sunday's New York Times. (Not today. Do it on Sunday.) I'm told there's a better-than-average chance that something may be there.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

All These Things That They've Done

To put it most simply, the Killers totally rocked the Orpheum tonight ... and then they didn't. Despite two albums' worth of great material, the band only played for about 70 minutes (including one and a half encores) and left the audience wanting more.

Which I hope doesn't overshadow the fact that the Killers did put on a great show. Sure, the sound wasn't clear enough for me to really hear Brandon Flowers singing or talking, but damn, the one-two punch of "When You Were Young" and "Somebody Told Me" truly got the crowd going, as did the band's other hits "Mr. Brightside," "Smile Like You Mean It," and the new single "Bones" (which I totally love). And it was cool that they did "Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll" (off the re-issue of Hot Fuss), and that they closed with "All These Things That I've Done," which left me on a real high. But I really wanted to hear "The River Is Wild" and "Andy, You're a Star," among others, so that was a bummer.

Some other thoughts: Flowers is a fun frontman to watch. He's so straight-laced and earnest in his performance that you're tempted to think he's not enjoying himself, but then he does a variation on what Whitney called "the Dave Matthews jig" and it's pretty fun. With his long sleeve shirt and vest, the guy had to be hot up there on the stage. Also, man, does the mezzanine of the Orpheum shake. We were in row B, and at various times during the show, I stopped bopping and still was vibrating. It's pretty scary. Granted, the Orpheum has probably seen rowdier shows than the Killers, but damn ... one of these days the mezzanine is going to come crashing down. I just hope I'm not there when it does.

So anyway, is it so wrong for a performer to leave its audience wanting more? I suppose that's the mark of a good show, right? Still, I think in this case the concert would have been truly great had it been just 15 minutes and maybe three or four songs longer. Then the band would have truly, ahem, killed.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Under Construction

I was thinking about my blog today — as I do on most days — and I decided it needed a paint job. So click here to see how that might look.



Martin's Miscellany

It's Wednesday — hump day — and I don't have enough for a long posting, so here are three shorter items all in one ...

Bundle up ... Today is my least favorite day of the year. It’s the first really cold day, when all of a sudden my fall jacket isn’t warm enough and I should have put on more of a coat (and maybe also used a scarf). Still, I’m stubborn (if you couldn’t tell from previous postings) and I refuse to wear a coat until November. So I’ll tough it out for another week.

Bring on the bride ... It’s nice to go to the dentist and have your hygienist tell you “Your teeth are always uneventful.” Shows that even though I may not floss every day, I generally do take good care of my teeth. Now, if only I could do something about the tartar build-up ... But anyway, so now I’ve been to the dentist. I’ve gotten my hair(s) cut. I have new glasses. I have a new tuxedo shirt. My tux has been cleaned and pressed. My shoes have been shined. I’ve found my cufflinks. I’ve (mostly) written my speech. You know what this all means: I think I’m ready for Mitzi’s wedding this weekend.

If it ain’t broke ... Cosi has added to its menu and now offers pizza and melts in addition to the basic sandwiches and salads. I tried the cheese pizza today and I have to say: eh. (Yeah, it hasn’t been a good week for trying new lunch things.) Sure, the dough was awesome (and even better than usual since it was toasted and crustier), but the sauce was chunky with tomatoes. And more importantly, there was too much of the sauce and not enough cheese. I say there was nothing wrong with the menu before, so Cosi should stick to what it already did well.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006


You know how much I love the new movie Borat. Well, now you can see for yourself what all the fuss is about. The first four minutes of the movie have been posted (legally) on YouTube. Check it out.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Don't Believe the Hype

I was told Friday night that enough is enough and I simply had to try Chacarero. So JPP and I went today. Eh. I wasn’t blown away (and neither was JPP). Sure, it’s likely because I got my sandwich (the large original steak/chicken combo) without the muenster cheese, tomatoes, and avocado spread (just the meat, string beans, and salt/pepper) — and I was told the sandwiches there were so good that I could do that and would still enjoy it — but if I’m looking for a good, overpriced sandwich, I’ll stick with Sam LaGrassa’s.

Not that the experience wasn’t good for a laugh. For starters, it’s like going to the Soup Nazi. The place operates with a strict procedure: you wait in one line to order and pay, then you go across to the other side until they’re ready to make your sandwich, then you wait in double lines and specify what you want or don’t want. And forget it if you don’t follow the instructions. And also, be prepared if you want your sandwich specially prepared, like I did. After I told the woman I didn’t want the tomatoes and the cheese and the avocados, I got such a look from her. I felt like a pariah.

So anyway, that’s my verdict: Chacarero doesn’t live up to the hype. You can’t always trust a long line. I take my lunch pretty seriously, and I don’t think I’ll be running back there anytime soon. (And if you think that's bad, JPP only ate half and threw out the rest.)

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Oh, Crap

What’s that expression that when the bird of paradise craps on you it means good luck? Well, let’s hope that’s the case. Otherwise, I say “Damn you, stupid bird!” to the pigeon who crapped on my shoulder this morning as I was walking into work. Next time I’ll be a little more careful when I walk past the big CVS in Downtown Crossing.

Go Away!

Just thought I'd pass along that Congress (yes, our friends down in Washington), along with the Travel Industry Association and, have declared today, October 23, "National Plan Your Vacation Day." As if any of us really needed to be told to get away and take time off from work.

Then again, apparently some of us do need to be told. According to a survey done by Expedia, one-third of American workers (that's 33%) do not always take all their vacation days. In fact, it's estimated that U.S. employed adults will leave a cumulative total of 574 million vacation days untaken in 2006 (an average of four per person). And what's most amazing is that employed adults in the U.S. receive the fewest vacation days among all the countries surveyed (an average of 14 in the U.S. vs 39 in France, for example. Thirty-nine!!!).

Personally, after all the bad news I heard last week (not just this, but other stuff I can't post about just yet), a vacation sounds like a great idea. Who's with me?

Saturday, October 21, 2006

They Could Be Heroes

Many will call Flags of Our Fathers Clint Eastwood's Saving Private Ryan. And they will be wrong, because Saving Private Ryan is the better movie. This film, the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima and the soldiers who were celebrated for having appeared in the famous flag-raising photo, means to seriously question the definition of the word "hero" and to criticize the government machine that creates stories in the name of national unity and support of the war. On those counts, the film generally succeeds; it's hard not to think of the current war and people like Jessica Lynch. The film even opens by saying how the country's support of the war was on the wane and people were getting more cynical. Sounds familiar.

But as storytelling, I found the film lacking. Flags is based on the book by James Bradley and Ron Powers about Bradley's father. But instead of Bradley narrating the whole movie, there are multiple narrators, a device that initially throws you off to who is telling the story. And in fact, that Bradley is writing a book is never really made clear. There's a jump in plot and all of a sudden he's speaking with various veterans. And then about three-quarters of the way in, he becomes the narrator. Also, I usually don't mind when the story moves around in time. Heck, the TV show Lost does it in every episode. Here, however, the movie jumps from one time period to another and then to another, and that takes away from the impact Eastwood wants to make. I always sort of felt like I didn't know what was going on because there were things left unfinished. The first five minutes or so, with Doc Bradley's heart attack, are especially confusing. It's unclear why it's being shown at all. But more importantly, I just didn't feel like the three main characters were fleshed out enough. As a result, they're not compelling. I get the symbolism of the faceless soldiers in the picture, and how they could be anyone, but these three guys needed more of an identity for this movie to really work.

Maybe I'm not making sense here. I just found Flags, ahem, not all it could be. I'm giving it a B.


Friday, October 20, 2006


Ugh. This weather sucks.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Goodbye, Marc

If you'll allow me to get serious for just a couple minutes, I wanted to acknowledge my friend Marc Kaplan, who passed away Tuesday morning after a nearly five-year battle with brain cancer. I met Marc through my friend David (one of the Playland folks), and when Marc lived in Boston for a couple years (I believe it was from 1998–1999) we became good friends. Since then, however, due to distance (Marc moved to Atlanta) and time, we drifted apart, and in these most recent years we really weren't in touch at all. Of course, it was during this time that Marc's brain tumor came back (he had been in remission), and things got progressively worse for him.

I can't say that I have any idea what it must have been like for Marc, or his friends and family, but I know it was hard. Marc was apparently taking an aggressive course of action to beat his cancer. He had moved back home with his family in New York, would get chemo and radiation in the city, and travel often to Houston for experimental treatments at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Eventually, those proved useless; Marc stopped going for treatment at the end of the summer. David told me that in his last couple months, Marc was in a lot of pain, so I take comfort in the fact that now he is at peace and no longer suffering.

While I know I could have been much better about staying in touch with Marc these past couple years, I also know it'd be too easy to post something here about regrets in that regard and turn this into a posting about me and not him. Still, to put it mildly, the news was a real bummer, and as you might expect it made me a bit sad. Let me say that when I think of Marc, I'll always remember his Life Is Good hat. During his first bout with the tumor, someone gave Marc a hat to hide his baldness. Whether it was meant as irony or reflective of Marc's optimism, I saw the hat as symbolic of Marc's positive attitude that he would beat this disease. Even though he didn't, I'll continue to associate Marc with the hat.

Marc was a good guy and he'll be missed.

(If you'd like to read more about Marc, check out the article that his employer, the United States Tennis Association wrote about him. Click here to read it.)

He Had Mail

You're all forgiven for the birthday cards that never arrived. And now I think I know why I never got those issues of Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. Apparently, they were all at Alan Gagne's house. He's one of the mailmen for the Coolidge Corner area — or was, until he was found dead in his apartment last week by a supervisor who was making sure Gagne was alright. For many years (since the 1980s apparently), and for no apparent reason, Gagne had been holding onto people's mail. Sure, much of it was junk (circulars and other crap), and I thank Gagne for not delivering it to me, but a good chunk of it was normal, everyday, first class mail. Thankfully, Gagne never opened it, so I suppose there's a chance I'll finally get that card you told me you sent three years ago. Maybe I'll also get my copy of the current issue of GQ, which still hasn't arrived.

(In all seriousness, poor Alan Gagne. I hate to make fun of the recently deceased.)


What Day Is It, Kids?

Since it's Argyle Wednesday, just thought I'd post this lovely pic of Britney Spears walking around L.A. wearing a nice argyle sweater. (Thanks to Celebrity Terrorist.) In honor of the day, I too am wearing an argyle sweater, just as I do on most Wednesdays. And if BritBrit is also wearing one, then you know it's trendy.

And yes, admitting that I celebrate "Argyle Wednesday" — in addition to Tie Thursday — confirms that I am a loser. Just in case there was any doubt.

(And yes, the fact that this is all I have to post today just shows you how blogworthy my life is these days. Hopefully that will change soon so I have more exciting things to write about.)

Update, 9:15 a.m.: On my way into work this morning, three people (including myself) were wearing argyle sweaters in just my half of the T car I was on. Maybe this Argyle Wednesday thing really is catching on?!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Making Plans

Since it seems that Lindsay Lohan and I both seem to have the same life plan — we both want to be married by the time we're 30 — I would like to publicly offer to marry Ms. Lohan and make an honest woman out of her. LiLo, will you marry me? I'm not doing anything on Saturday. Can you meet me here in Boston? Consider this also your invitation, my lucky readers.

(Hopefully Lindsay won't notice that I'm actually 32 and clearly missed my "deadline." It's alright, though. Some things are better late than never.)

I Don't Eat Big Ones

If Super Size Me didn't turn you off to eating fast food, well, then Fast Food Nation certainly will. In fact, it may just turn you off to eating meat altogether. The lastest film from Richard Linklater, one of my favorite directors (he directed Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, and Before Sunset, among other films), Fast Food Nation is based on the book by Eric Schlosser. Only instead of the film being a documentary, it's a dramatic version of what Schlosser documents. We meet (no pun intended) Mexicans who come across the border and work in the meat processing plant, a marketing executive looking into charges that the meat in the hamburgers includes fecal matter, the teenagers who work in a fast food joint, and various other folks who work in and around the fast food industry. While there's not so much of a plot, there is a lot of character, and we see just who these people are who are making, marketing, and selling us our Big Macs and Whoppers.

Suffice it to say, Fast Food Nation does not paint a pretty picture of the industry. Teens spit into burgers, they drop them on the floor but cook them anyway, the processing plant employees don't always keep things as clean as possible ... you get the idea. There are a lot of lofty statements about things like how disobeying the Patriot Act is the most patriotic thing you can do, and a lot of strong accusations about meat makers and those who eat fast food. And Linklater doesn't exactly bash your head making these points. Instead he takes his typically slow and thoughful approach — though what he's saying isn't exactly subtle either. I mean, the most effective scenes may be those that show the abusive ways cows are killed and slaughtered (it's inhumane, bloody, and gross, and Linklater shows it all to us). Acting is generally good across the board — the cast includes Greg Kinnear, Bobby Cannavale, Kris Kristofferson, Ethan Hawke, Avril Lavigne, and Bruce Willis — and the film is quite effective at making its points. I wouldn't call this one of my favorite movies of the year, but it's good and worth seeing (when it opens on November 17), and I'll give it a B.

Incidentally, Linklater was at the screening I went to and he hung around afterwards to do a Q&A. It was, unfortunately, dominated by some politically-minded vegetarians and a B.U. film professor who sort of took the fun out of chatting up this great filmmaker, but I did learn that the processing plant scenes were shot in Mexico and that Linklater (though he grew up and still lives in Texas) has been a vegetarian since 1983, and that half the funding for the movie came from overseas because it's predicted the film will do better there than here, and that Schlosser sought Linklater out to adapt the book, not vice versa. Personally, I would rather have also learned more about Linklater's progression from the smaller films to bigger ones like this one, and if he's going to continue to make more films that tackle hot button issues, but those questions will have to be asked by the reporters who'll be interviewing him for stories soon to appear in magazines and newspapers closer to the film's release.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Now I've Seen Everything

Randomly bumped into Joe and Marie as I was walking home tonight, so we grabbed dinner at the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse and then, of course, got some dessert at J.P. Licks next door. J.P. Licks had changed some flavors since the last time I was there, and now they have some new ones, including Chocolate Macademia, Butter Brittle, and Manischewitz Wine Sorbet. So our eyes .... wait, what was that? Did I say Manischewitz Wine Sorbet? Yes, I did. Needless to say, we had no interest in that.

I, however, was intrigued by another new flavor: Noodle Kugel Ice Cream. Now, when I think of tastes that taste great together, my mind does not automatically go to noodles and ice cream. But there it was, and I was told that in addition to actual noodles, this flavor also had butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, and maybe another ingredient or two, but no raisins and thankfully no fruit. So call me crazy, but I decided to try it, and it was odd, but not as bad as it would sound. So I went to get a cup of it, but that's when fate intervened. "Sorry, some sanitizer just spilled on it," the girl behind the counter told me. Thank you, fate. I really did not need to see how a full cup of Noodle Kugel Ice Cream would taste. I was intrigued and curious, but not that curious. And while I would have guessed this is a flavor that would only appear on Fridays and Saturdays, I was told this flavor was "seasonal" and would be around for a while. Imagine that.

Only in Brookline, I say. (Or maybe also in Newton. But not downtown, and not in J.P. or in Davis Square, etc. etc.)

The Sox Won?!

This season of Lost is already off to a great start. The first five minutes of last week's episode was mindblowing, and then the last five minutes of this week's episode was equally great. And according to today's Boston Globe, the show's creators didn't just pull the Red Sox reference out of their asses; they had a plan to use it all along. Then again, as Eric Wilbur writes: "You want to see someone go bezerk in a few weeks? Wait until Ben tells Jack the Sox didn't re-sign Pedro or Lowe in lieu of Matt Clement and David Wells. That's not going to go over well." Anyway, Lost is back, and I don't just mean from summer hiatus. I am totally intrigued by everything that's happening with the Others, want to know more, love all the possibilities, and can't believe it's going off the air after six episodes (it'll return 13 weeks later, in February). Click on the above image (or click here) to watch the Red Sox clip from Wednesday's show, or go to to watch the full episode.

And while I'm talking TV, maybe I'll share some thoughts about the other shows I've been watching:
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip had a great pilot, a not-as-good second and third episode, and now with the fourth episode I'm a fan again. It'll take a lot for me not to watch this show, even if I wasn't enjoying it as much those two middle weeks.

The Office just hasn't been nearly as good or as funny as last year was. They've gone and added the one thing the show lacked: a plot. And now it has prolonged scenes of seriousness (like in the awful premiere episode four weeks ago). Last night's episode was the best one so far this season. But the show won't be much good until Jim returns to Scranton. I don't want to see a spinoff show where Jim moves to Stamford.

Grey's Anatomy. So good. Sooooo good. One of the few shows I will watch ASAP if I've gotten home late. (And by the way, I love the season two soundtrack, especially the Gomez track "How We Operate" and Get Set Go's "I Hate Everyone." It's worth buying.)

I didn't love the pilot of Six Degrees so I stopped watching. But I had it on last night after Grey's Anatomy and I have to say, I really enjoyed it. I think I'll make an effort to keep up with this one.

I still love The Amazing Race. One of the best, most unpredictable shows on TV. (Though I'm still a week behind and need to catch up.)

Like Lost, Desperate Housewives has also been better this season than last. Though I'm not sure why everyone loves Marcia Cross. Eva Longoria is the funniest actress on that show. She's so good you don't even notice how good she is.

Otherwise, My Name Is Earl just doesn't do it for me anymore so I don't know how much longer I'll be watching, 30 Rock I recorded on Wednesday and will watch this weekend, Saturday Night Live is a waste of time, I don't think I'm going to bother with What About Brian, and after one episode I've given up on Heroes, Ugly Betty, Brothers & Sisters, and The Nine. With those last four, I figure if I've missed them and don't make any great effort to catch up, then what's the point of recording them in the first place? So I'm passing on them. I have enough to watch as it is.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This Is an Awful, Awful Movie ... Not!

If Borat is so wrong, then why does it feel so right? Alright, maybe that's not exactly what I want to say about the movie (its actual name is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, but damn, this is simultaneously one of the funniest and one of the most offensive movies I have ever seen.

If you don't know, Borat is a character played by the British comic Sacha Baron Cohen who is supposed to be a television reporter from Kazakhstan. Basically, the movie is a mockumentary of Borat's exploits as he travels across the U.S., first in pursuit of knowledge about America and then in pursuit of Pamela Anderson (really). And Borat is naive, totally clueless, and without social graces, so this makes for some great comedy.

But Borat is also an anti-semite and a misogynist and a homophobe and a racist and, well, do you need more? So there are parts of the movie that just made me cringe and recoil with horror. If you've heard anything about this movie, maybe you've heard of the scene early on that shows "The Running of the Jews." Well, bad as that sounds, it's nothing compared to what the Jew — and the Mrs. Jew — actually looks like. Totally uncool stuff, as is the reference to the Jews being responsible for 9/11 and the scene where Borat thinks a nice Jewish couple has turned into a couple of cockroaches, and he throws money at them to shoo them away.

So you may think I'm also an anti-semite or a self-hating Jew when I tell you how funny the rest of the movie is. And I swear, it's the funniest movie I've seen since, well, Jackass: Number Two a couple days ago — but that's not the point. I don't want to ruin any of the scenes or the lines or the gags because so many of them are just classic. And Cohen (yes, he's actually Jewish) doesn't just act; he is this character. Call it a performance if you want, but it's like Borat is actually a real person.

Yes, Pamela Anderson is in the movie. Yes, you will fall out of your seat when you see what Borat does when he sees her. And yes, you will be amazed when Borat is over that Cohen got away with as much as he did and that a film studio (even if it is Fox) is releasing the movie (on November 3) — and is selling it in press materials as "hilariously offensive."

I know this movie is not going to be for everyone. And I hope beyond hope that people in the southern red states don't take it too literally (though scenes in the movie do show they might). But if you buy into it as satire and nothing more, then you'll agree that Borat is one of the classic comedies of all time. The guys I was sitting next to (who work for one of the local papers) walked out comparing this to Spinal Tap. How's that for an endorsement? I give Borat an A–.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Sale-ing with Christopher Columbus

Few people know that in addition to being a curious explorer, Christopher Columbus was also an avid bargain hunter. In fact, the word "sale" was coined as a tribute to him — the word was taken from "sail," but it's unknown why the spelling was changed. And to further prove the point, the ships Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria were not named for former girlfriends as is widely believed, but for Columbus' three favorite vendors in the Spanish market (Pinta was a bookseller). And it's for these reasons that there are so many great deals to be had on this day.

And it's for that reason that I headed out to Wrentham today with my friend Dave to do a little shopping at the outlets. Of course, the sales were just one reason the place was packed. It was a bee-yoo-tiful day today (75 degrees or so), so who wouldn't want to be outside in that? And I cashed in: three ties (3 for $69!) and three shirts at Brooks Brothers; a pair of sneakers from Nike; and a pair of shoes, a sweater vest, and rugby shirt from Bass. Low outlet prices, plus 40 percent off here, 20 percent off there, an additional 15 or 10 percent with a VIP coupon, this sale, that sale ... Christopher Columbus would be so proud. All told, I spent about three hours at the Outlet Center (yes, I went into many more stores than those where I actually bought something), and despite some traffic getting out of there, I was back home in about 40-45 minutes. It was a very good afternoon.

(Alright, I made most of that up. As far as I know, there is no connection between Christopher Columbus and the sales held on Columbus Day, nor were his ships named for vendors in the, ahem, Spanish market — and shame on you if you believed any of that. Also, I didn't go to Wrentham today solely for the sales. I actually went out that way to visit and have lunch with Karen, David, and Judah in their new house in Franklin, which is a town or two over from Wrentham if you didn't know. On the other hand, I was truthful about what I bought at the outlets and about the masses who shopped with me and how long I was there, etc. And I did bring Dave with me — we're catching up after some time apart, thanks to his new CD and my new favorite song, "The Idea of You." So regardless of the overall veracity of this posting, it was a good, productive, and fun holiday day off from work.)


Sunday, October 08, 2006

So Funny It's Painful

Movies don't get much funnier, grosser, painful, oh, and did I mention funnier than Jackass: Number Two. In fact, I think the only movie that may be funnier than this one may actually be the original Jackass movie. There are skits here that had me tearing up I was laughing so hard, especially a pretty harmless one involving Chris Pontius dressed as the devil. Others I could barely watch they were so gross. And another skit is so un-P.C. that the fact that one guy is wearing a beard made of, uh, hair from between the guys' legs is the least offensive part. God bless Johnny Knoxville and his crew. They are crazy sumbitches. They're the kind of guys who, before eating horse crap, hesitate not because, well, it's horse crap, but because it has fuzz on it. Three cheers for Jackass: Number Two. It gets a B+ from me. (What? They all can't be The Departed!)


Saturday, October 07, 2006

I Live for This!

All's I can say tonight is ... baseball just got interesting again. Woo hoo! Go Tigers!

(To my Yankee fan friends: Yes, I know the Sox didn't even make the playoffs. Still, this has to hurt. Ha!)


The Arrived

Damn. The Departed is one very good movie. Start to near-finish, I was on the edge of my seat watching one of the best ensemble acting jobs of the year spinning a story of cops and the mob, a story of conflicting loyalties, and a story of Boston's underbelly. I swear, with the exception of Mark Wahlberg, who is just a little too over the top, this is top-notch acting all around. Even DiCaprio, who I don't generally like, is excellent. It's like the guy grew up ten years between The Aviator and this movie, and his face shows it. (Leo actually looks like he could be the brother of Eric Dane, who plays "Dr. McSteamy" on Grey's Anatomy.)

The film has laughs and suspense; particularly gripping is the scene where (and you know it has to happen so this is no spoiler) Damon and DiCaprio's characters find out about each other — and do so without any dialogue. One other thing about the movie that stood out that I also really liked was the use of music. The Departed has a great soundtrack and score, and for, like, 85% of the film there is music playing. Songs will stop suddenly and then pick up again. It's all pretty cool.

Of course, I said "near-finish" at the start of this review because I think the last five minutes gets a smidge laughable, and the last scene leaves a pretty big question unanswered, but maybe that's the point: in the world of this film, we never really know who's on whose side, and what to believe. And in The Departed, that makes for some great, gritty drama. Run to see this one. It gets an A from me.


Friday, October 06, 2006

At Medium Volume

Three days after seeing High Fidelity and I'm still not sure what to make of the show. My toes were tapping during many of the songs, and I had some good laughs, but overall, I just felt something was missing. A spark. A certain je ne sais quoi. I don't know exactly what. Maybe it's my chronic problem that I never seem to like seeing shows in Boston; they just don't feel right if they're not on Broadway. Or maybe I just had too high expectations. Either way, High Fidelity felt like it was a bit lacking.

So what did I like about it? The music's good, and I don't just say that because I know Tom Kitt, the guy who wrote it (we went to high school together). The songs are generally witty (thanks to lyricist Amanda Green), tuneful, and ones you could actually listen to out of context on your iPod. It's refreshing. With a couple of exceptions, these are not your typical Broadway showtunes. Particularly memorable were the opener ("I Wouldn't Change a Thing"), "It's No Problem," "I've Got a 9 Percent Chance," and the song that opens Act 2, which I could name but then it would ruin a good joke. (I'd mention others by name, but none of the songs were listed in the program — on purpose, I'm told.) Will Chase, the actor who plays the lead, is very good; his Rob is a different character than the one John Cusack played in the movie, so you're not tempted to make any comparison. The show feels current, hip, and modern, with "real" dialogue, a cool and colorful record store set, and references to actual artists and contemporary topics. Finally, High Fidelity has a little more attitude than you might expect from a show, and that starts at the pre-show announcements (i.e.: turn off your cell phone, etc.), includes frequent cursing and usage of the f-word, and demonstrates itself in the varied musical styles, which include Pat Benatar–style rock and "adult contemporary" pop-rock.

And what didn't I like? Well, Jenn Colella is hot (especially in her song "Number 5 with a Bullet"), but her character and performance are generally lukewarm (if not a little cold). I just didn't see what Rob saw in Laura, and if we're to sympathize with him, we need to like her too. The show is also strangely undercast. Nine of the 12 cast members play two roles, and one guy even plays a woman for no apparent reason. There's a scene that supposedly takes place in a crowded club, and with barely anyone on stage, it's hard to believe. Further, if you've seen the movie, you know Bruce Springsteen makes a cameo. Well, here he's a character and someone plays him. Quite frankly, the gimmick doesn't work. There's only one Bruce, and as hard as the actor tries, it's tough to suspend your disbelief. I also thought certain scenes were underwhelming and poorly adapted, or just silly (like most involving Ian, the Tim Robbins character in the movie). Oh yeah, and it's an unfair comment I suppose, but you can't help but think of Jack Black when you see Jay Klaitz's performance as Barry. Basically, the character has been "cutened up" for the stage and that's unfortunate.

And yet, despite all my problems, I still might recommend the show — or at least the soundtrack, whenever it's released. I don't exactly think Rob and Barry, with all their rock music integrity, would love it, but High Fidelity is different, it feels youthful, and hell, the music is really fun. The show is in Boston for another couple weeks before it packs up and heads for Broadway. I'm hoping things get a little tighter before it opens up officically there in December.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Watch the Oats

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the early front-runner for this year's Best Picture: Employee of the Month. Alright, I'm obviously kidding, but believe me when I say that this movie is better and funnier than it has any right to be. And most of the credit for that goes to Dane Cook, whose cool charm carries this comedy from start to finish. Jessica Simpson again shows off her talents, but ahem, not as well as she did in Dukes of Hazzard. And that's probably all you really want to know about this film, right? It gets a B from me, for better than expected.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Idiot Is Too Kind a Word

I went to see High Fidelity tonight with Liz, and at the Boylston T stop afterward, we bumped into Kristina, who was taking the B line home. So Liz and I got on with Kristina, and I rode out to Babcock St. and walked home from there. When I got to my building, I got a bit of a scare: my car was not in the parking lot. Holy shit. Did someone tow it? Was it stolen? Had I parked it in the wrong place?

No. Duh. I had parked it on Beacon St. at the St. Mary's T stop, just like I always do when I go downtown after hours or on the weekend. So because it was 10:30, and the T is less frequent heading inbound at that hour, I had to walk all the way back to my car to get it. And of course, it started to rain as I was walking. So didn't I feel stupid.

But lo and behold, there was my car, at the St. Mary's T stop, right where I left it. Duh. Sometimes I can be such a moron.

Grady's Revenge

Is it so wrong for me to want the Yankees to make it to the World Series this year? I ask because I'm rooting for the Dodgers on the National League side, and wouldn't it just be great if Grady Little got a second chance to beat the Yankees on the national stage? And wouldn't it also be great if Nomar could earn his own World Series ring? I'd love to see Bill Mueller and Derek Lowe back in the Bronx, back in championship form like they were in 2004, and for Grady to do everything right — or at least right enough — so he can exorcise his own demons from the 2003 ALCS. And that's on top of how cool it'd be from a historical standpoint for the Yankees to be playing the Dodgers (I'll bet Fox Sports is already preparing the intros to hype that series). To clarify, I'm not rooting for the Yankees to win anything. I just think this matchup would make for a fun Series, and it'd be the closest thing we'd have this year to the Sox making it all the way ... like they were supposed to have done. (Whoops. I forgot. I no longer hold a grudge against the 2006 team. Strike that last comment.)


Sky High

Some days just mean more to me than others. My birthday, for example, or Thanksgiving. Another is today, October 3, because it's the anniversary of the day I went skydiving. Last year I wrote all about it so there's no sense repeating the same words, but suffice it to say, it was truly one of the coolest, most amazing things I've ever done, and I still take tremendous pride in the fact that I did it. I know I've said I was going to go skydiving again this year and it looks like that's passed me by, but I know I will do it again before long. I have to. You see, when you've pushed yourself to the limit by doing something like jumping out of a plane from 10,000 feet, there's a switch in you that's flipped, and you want to keep turning it on. It's a drug. Alright, not one as addicting as some others, but I know I won't be able to go too much longer without another fix. Until then, just wanted to post something to observe this special day in my life.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

All Is Forgiven

It came to pass that a great and heavy storm rained down on the Fenway and washed away the 2006 Red Sox season. And lo, a voice from above gathered the Nation together and said unto them, "We will rebuild and try again next year."
— verse 18:7 from the Same Ol', Same Ol' Testament

It's customary in the week between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur to ask for forgiveness from those who you may have wronged in the past year, and to forgive those who have wronged you. So since Yom Kippur begins tonight, let me say to the Red Sox: I forgive you for imploding and screwing up this season as badly as you did, and for making me so angry these past two months. I hope you will forgive me for turning away from you and not watching a single game these many weeks, and for saying such disparaging things about your playing ability and your prospects for coming back after such terrible losses.

We'll get 'em next year.