Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sorry, Charlie

I forgot my T pass (I still can't call it a "Charlie Card") at home on Monday. It wasn't the first time I'd done it, and it was particularly annoying because I had it in my hand while I was getting ready and put it down before putting it in my pocket. Thankfully, the train arrived at the Coolidge Corner station right when I got there, so I was able to "sneak" aboard at one of the back doors. But on the way home, I had to pay $2 for a one-time ticket.

Now, I realize anyone can use the excuse that they forgot their T pass at home, and I had no way to prove it, and yes, I realize that $2 isn't so much money to pay, but isn't there some way the MBTA can allow for some kind of amnesty and grant a "free ride" if you actually have purchased a pass and just don't have it with you? Maybe you can scan an ID or something? Or maybe I should just be better about bringing my pass every day so I don't have stupid questions like these.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mama Said There'd Be Movies Like This

There are movies you see because you want to, movies you see because you have to, and movies you see because, well, because they're free. I'll let you guess which one of those Because I Said So was for me. No need to give this a full review; if you're a woman, you'll probably love it. If you're a woman and you see it with your mother, you'll love it even more. If you're a guy and you're dragged to this movie, God help you. It's shocking to learn that Because was directed by Michael Lehmann, who also directed Heathers, because this movie is so tame compared to that wickedly funny '80s classic. Because is cliched, but it's not awful, and you could do worse than watch Mandy Moore on a big screen for an hour and 45 minutes. Still, it's puzzling what attracted someone like Diane Keaton to this movie, since she's basically reduced to some bad physical comedy; at multiple times she either has a cake smashed in her face or she's doing things like reacting to Internet porn in the most naive way (I said multiple times). When she gets the chance to actually act, it's totally laughable. Certain movies just aren't made for men, and this is one of them. I'm giving it a C.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Monday Music with Marty

Happy Monday? Last month I gave you a heads up about one of my new favorite singers, Amy Winehouse, whose album, Back to Black, is dropping on March 13 and whose song "Rehab" I just love. Well, add another name to your shopping list: Mika, whose song "Grace Kelly" is one of the catchiest tunes I've heard in a long time, and whose album, Life in Cartoon Motion, also drops in March, on the 27th (though you can already find a bunch of tracks online if you look in the right places). Take Rufus Wainwright, make him less moody, and add some Freddie Mercury-ish attitude, and you've basically got Mika's sound. It's piano-driven pop, and it's fresh and cool and I hope he takes off in a big way. The video for "Grace Kelly" is fun, and it's already getting a lot of airplay on the MTV Hits channel. Listen for yourself here and check out the video below.

And while I'm on the subject, I burned one of my old-fashioned, typically eclectic "State of My iPod" mixes this weekend, a collection of all the songs currently on heavy rotation. If you're at all interested, here's what's on it (with selected links so you can sample some of the tracks; the unlinked ones — with the exception of the second Mika track — are on iTunes):

1. Mika - Grace Kelly
2. Amy Winehouse - Rehab
3. Lily Allen - Smile
4. Fall Out Boy - This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race
5. Justin Timberlake - What Goes Around Comes Around
6. Robbie Williams - She's Madonna
7. Nelly Furtado - Say It Right
8. Gwen Stefani (with Akon) - The Sweet Escape
9. Jay-Z - Show Me What U Got
10. The Shins - Phantom Limb
11. Cold War Kids - Hang Me Up to Dry
12. Jason Mraz - The Beauty in Ugly
13. Mika - Stuck in the Middle
14. Mat Kearney - Nothing Left to Lose
15. RJD2 - Ghostwriter (remix)
16. Corinne Bailey Rae - Trouble Sleeping
17. Norah Jones - Thinking About You
18. Amy Winehouse - You Know I'm No Good (feat. Ghostface Killah)
19. Regina Spektor - Fidelity
20. Vanessa Hudgens - Come Back to Me
21. Steve Jobs - Macworld Keynote (remix)

And finally, if you like Lily Allen's "Smile" (her album Alright Still comes out tomorrow), check out this alternate version by Mark Ronson.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Secrets Can Be Seductive

Ladies and gentlemen, I've gone and updated my top 10 list for last year because Notes on a Scandal surely deserves a place there. And I'll go one step further and say that Judi Dench deserves the Oscar for her performance here more than Helen Mirren does for her work in The Queen. Dench is as scary an on-screen villain as there's been in the movies this year, and her performance is mesmerizing. It's hard to imagine that she went home every night and was a normal person. In the movie, she's a force to be reckoned with.

To backtrack a bit, Notes tells the story of Barbara (Dench), a spinster history teacher who falls for her younger, more modern coworker, Sheba (Cate Blanchett, also very good). Sheba is in an unhappy marriage, and gets involved with one of her students — a secret that Barbara discovers and holds over Sheba's head in order to endear Sheba to her. Basically, take Fatal Attraction, remove the sex between the two leads, add a gay subtext, and you'll almost have the plot of this movie. As I say, the acting is impressive, and the film itself is quite compelling. If I had any problem with it, it's Philip Glass' score, which is too heavy-handed and intrusive. His music is clearly meant to ratchet up the intensity and the drama, but really, Dench's performance does that all on its own. And because there's so much of the music, that's why I'm only going to give Notes an A–.


Same Story, Different Year

I thought this year would be different, what with my new computer and faster Internet connection and all. So I got up early (i.e.: at 9 am, which is early for me on a Saturday) and logged onto to do some recon work before the tickets went on sale at 10:00. And somewhere around 9:45 I clicked on the June 16 game vs the Giants, entered the "virtual waiting room," and waited. And waited. And waited. I read the page a good handful of times, just for fun. You know, all that B.S. about how tickets are sold on a "first-come, first-served basis," but patrons are selected from the waiting room "on a random basis." And I watched the page refresh itself every 30 seconds, waiting on the edge of my seat as the numbers hit single digits, hoping the page would change to something — anything — different. And I waited for the ticket status at the bottom of the page to change and tell me everything was already sold out, but it only updated every hour, so I figured maybe, just maybe, I still had a chance of getting through. Hell, I even tried calling the ticketing phone numbers — both of them — and kept getting either a busy signal or the message that "all circuits are busy."

Whatever. I'm generally a patient person, especially where stuff like this is concerned, but I waited for more than two hours in this stupid waiting room only to find out the game I wanted to see was sold out. I'm not trying again for another one; I'd rather go out and enjoy the day than sit by my computer waiting for Red Sox tickets. I'll just have to watch Papi, Manny, Dice-K, J.V. and the boys on NESN like I did last year when I didn't even bother trying to get tickets. That seems to be the smarter choice. Did anyone get through today? I mean, really — aside from connections and scalpers, how does anyone get Sox tickets in this city?


Thursday, January 25, 2007

EWWWW ... Gross!!

Some kids are cute. This one is snot.

(And no, I don't have a clue who this is. I just randomly found it on the Interweb today.)

She's Bringing Sexy Back. Way Back.

Alright, it's only been two weeks and I'm already starting to tire of American Idol. It's not that I think Simon and co. are too mean. On the contrary. It's just that I wish — really wish — the producers would show some restraint and not put on some of the truly awful, attention-seeking people. It's one thing when there are people who think they're good but actually suck, and they're cut down to size. That is funny. But some of these people who just have no chance and only want to be on tv simply wastes viewers' time (aside from the fact that watching the show in the first place feels like a waste of time). Like that first guy Wednesday night, Ian something or other, who had that thick Brooklyn accent and barely even sang. Or that girl Sarah, who admitted she couldn't sing and that she was tone deaf, and actually thought the judges would teach her how to sing during the competition, and then wouldn't leave when they turned her down. These people shouldn't be called back in the first place, and shouldn't be given any airtime. I'd rather see the good people, with scattered bad ones in there. Enough of these two-hour, awful people only audition episodes. This season isn't really shaping up to be any good so far.

Want to know how bad it's been? Check out this video below of a woman from Memphis who thinks she's sexy, very sexy, and who says her "confidentiality" is a key part of her style. Why do I continue to watch this show? I have no idea. And why am I writing about it? I think the better question is, why are you reading?

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Lighten Up, Lady

In today's Boston Herald there's this letter to the editor:

<< I’m sure I’m one of few Bostonians happy over the results of the Patriots–Colts game (Jan. 22). I’m happy there was no post-victory rioting or needless deaths, and I’m happy that a haughty coach and legions of hubris-driven, swaggering fans have been humbled. Mostly, I’m glad to know that there will be free time available to these obsessed minions that will hopefully be used toward a more conscientious purpose in our world than sports obsession. Maybe they’ll even have time to check out the true heroes — health care and human services workers, teachers and the like — and worship them instead of billionaire, profit-driven megalomanagers and men who happen to know how to toss pigskin around. >>

Jeeeeez. What a wet blanket. How lame can one person be? I won't even begin to make fun of what she's saying, but I will take issue with her characterization of Robert Kraft as a "billionaire, profit-driven megalomanager." You'll be hard-pressed to find a more generous sports owner than Uncle Bob (and his wife, Auntie Myra). The couple have donated tens of millions of dollars to a variety of philanthropic causes over the years. This woman, this Susie Davidson of Brookline, should look into that before she makes such lame characterizations.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bring It On

Whoa. That’s my biggest reaction to the Oscar nominations this morning. More specifically:

* No Dreamgirls for Best Picture? That’s a huge shock, because everyone thought it was a lock to win. This opens the field up completely, and now I’d say it’s a 4-way race (The Queen doesn’t really have a shot). But what’s odd is that Dreamgirls still has the most noms of any movie (eight) — including three in the Best Song category. That’s the coolest of all, because it means Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy may all sing. That would make for some fantastic television.

* Leo nominated for Blood Diamond and not The Departed. It’s because he thought he’d get a Best Supporting Actor nom for The Departed, and Warner Brothers campaigned thusly. Now he’s shot himself in the foot because he’s much better in Departed and doesn’t really have a shot to win for Blood Diamond. Then again, Forest Whitaker’s a lock to win anyway, so this is all moot.

* Ryan Gosling nominated for Best Actor. This is great. He is so good in Half Nelson. But I’m bummed that Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t get a nom for Borat. My view is that Will Smith took his spot; had Pursuit of Happyness come out any earlier in the year, the spot would have been Cohen’s.

* Whitaker vs O'Toole. If Peter O'Toole wins, it'll be because of sentiment. He's old; he plays an old guy. It's sort of like Abigail Breslin. She's good and all, but she's playing a cute kid. How hard can that be? (Says the guy who couldn't act, so he started writing reviews.) Not that I've seen Forest Whitaker's movie (or O'Toole's, for that matter), but that seems like a much more challenging role for him.

* Paul Greengrass nominated for Best Director. Even though United 93 didn’t make the Best Picture cut, I’m glad the movie was recognized here.

* Jennifer Hudson nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Hey, have I ever mentioned that I interviewed her for Continental? (Just kidding.)

* Mark Wahlberg nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Really? That one I don't get. But more importantly, so who has the better back story this year: Jennifer Hudson, former contestant on American Idol, or Mark Wahlberg, formerly Marky Mark, former Calvin Klein underwear model?

* My predictions: Departed for Best Pic; Scorsese for Best Director; Mirren, Whitaker, Hudson, and Murphy in the acting categories; Departed for Adapted Screenplay and Little Miss Sunshine for Original Screenplay; “Listen” for Best Song; and Happy Feet for Animated Film.

Those are my quick reactions. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the nominations. I like that, aside from the four acting categories and Best Director, things are pretty wide open. And now I definitely need to see Babel (I still have no interest in seeing Letters from Iwo Jima). With Ellen Degeneres hosting, this could be a great show. I can’t wait.

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Not Such a Great Catch

The trailer for Jennifer Garner's latest film, Catch and Release, doesn't exactly promise a very good movie. So the good news is that the trailer gets it partly wrong. For example, Catch is not a fun, cutesy romantic comedy about a woman getting over the death of her fiancee by falling in love with his best friend. Instead, it's a rather serious film about a woman whose fiancee dies just days before the wedding, and who, in dealing with her grief, learns surprising things about him and herself. Alright, fine, she does also fall in love with his best friend, but she does it reluctantly. And even better, that's not really the crux of the movie. So I guess the film's surprising depth is what redeems it from being a typical January throw-away.

Still, let's not go too far with praise here. While the romance doesn't feel totally forced, it does feel unrealistic. And Kevin Smith, playing a role probably meant for Jack Black, should probably stick to films he writes and directs, where he usually plays a character named Silent Bob. Overall, the screenplay (by Susannah Grant, who also wrote Erin Brockovich and In Her Shoes, and who makes her directorial debut here) could have used some pruning; the generally likable cast helps a great deal to overcome its limitations. Still, I just didn't get into the story enough and found certain plot details predictable or unnecessary. And Jennifer Garner just isn't given enough opportunities to smile. When she does, it basically makes the movie worth watching — as does the scene where she's wearing her wedding dress. Catch earns points for being better than expected, but loses some for just not being compelling enough. So, I'm giving it a B–.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Just Wondering ...

* Is this what the Yankee fans felt like in 2004?

* When radio execs first heard the chorus of Fall Out Boy's cool new single, "This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race," why did they decide to silence the word "God" and not "Damn?"

* Is the first real snow of the season not the best part of winter? I mean, walking home, as it's coming down, hearing the crunching of your steps as you push down on more of the finely-packed snow ... there aren't too many pleasures to be taken from this season, but that's one of them. Hopefully we'll get more of this soon.

* Are you on the list?

* Why did I go all the way to IKEA on Saturday for a DVD tower, when I found exactly what I wanted at Best Buy the very next day?

* Is it Friday yet?

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Not-So-Little Children

Children of Men presents a really unsettling picture of the world, circa 2027: all women have been infertile for 18 years, there is widespread poverty, no clear leadership, and bands of rebels use militaristic efforts to forward their goals. It's not a pretty picture. So when a miracle pregnancy is discovered, extreme measures are needed to keep the secret and not interfere with the birth. Enter Clive Owen's character, Theo Faron, who is grappling with his own inner demons (his child died years earlier), and who is charged with protecting the mother. That's about all I understood about the movie. There's a bit more to it, and much of that went over my head. I was unclear about what the Fish were doing, why Julianne Moore was only on for about 15 minutes, what Michael Caine had to do with any of it, and how this movie, which is actually quite good despite my not following it entirely, could resort to things like a character (the mother) whose name is Kee and a ship named Tomorrow. They're not exactly subtle symbols. But anyway, I didn't want to see Children of Men when it first came out, but the good reviews changed my mind. And now that I've seen it, I can't say I entirely agree, but I do still think this is a very good movie — largely because I was impressed by the vision of writer/director Alfonso Cuaron, and because I thought Clive Owen made an engaging hero. So I'm giving Children of Men a B+.


Second Helping

I always hate going to the movies after year-end awards have been handed out because I can't help but be biased while watching the film. It's like my inner critic is crying out, "Impress me!" And yet I do it anyway, mostly out of obligation because I want to be able to have seen the major Oscar nominees. So with that kind of mindset, I went to see The Queen on Saturday. And it's a good movie, but I won't be adding it to my top 10. I don't want to make this a "refuting the awards" review, but I'll add that Helen Mirren is good, and yet I can't say it's far and away the best female performance I've seen all year (not that I can think of a better one off-hand).

If you don't know, The Queen basically documents the week following the death of Princess Diana from the perspective of Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II. Of course, no one knows what really happened behind those closed doors, but the film posits that the Queen, not a fan of Diana's, was stuck in her old-fashioned ways, and was reluctant to acknowledge Diana's death publicly or, it turns out, privately. It took Blair's intervention for her to change her ways. This is, of course, an interesting story, and the film tries to be insightful rather than rehash what we all lived through (for example, it discusses Elton John's attendance at the funeral but doesn't show his performance, and it shows that Blair did not come up with the term "people's princess" all on his own). Mirren's performance is appropriately stoic and not showy, and Michael Sheen's (as Blair) is more engaging, but I don't know, I sort of wanted more out of the film. And that's why I'm only giving The Queen a B+.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

How Do You Say "Oh Well" in Swedish?

Not that I really needed one, but I'd been looking for a reason to return to IKEA ever since my first trip out to Stoughton a year ago (following The Great Clean-up of 2006). After all, who doesn't love IKEA, with its aisles and aisles of cheap but cool stuff? And its good food? Well, today I finally had a good enough reason to go. For what feels like a year or two, I've been looking for a DVD tower big enough to hold the 200-plus DVDs in my collection, and nothing I've seen has been good enough. IKEA had something in its catalog, the Bertby, which I thought was nice and would complement my other shelving. So, I made the trek, and since I left Brookline around 11:30, it only took me a half hour to get there. (That's the secret to going to IKEA: aim to get there as close to noon as possible, otherwise you'll be sitting in traffic.)

So as not to bore you with my shopping travails, I'll just say the Bertby was not what I was expecting it to be. I didn't want something that had to be hung on the wall, and more importantly, it wasn't nearly big enough. I almost decided to buy a Billy (in black), but I felt like I was settling and didn't want to lug it back to Boston only to be disappointed. So, I wandered around the store and, about an hour later, I was still empty handed. (Though not empty stomached; of course I had some Swedish meatballs and a cinnamon roll.) And that's basically the point of this posting: I was surprised that I could go to IKEA, spend about two hours there, and still buy nothing. Not a set of new pots for $9, not a cute stuffed dog for $7, not even a mouse pad for 79 cents. I almost replaced some stuff I bought a year ago, like the rug in my bedroom, but opted not to.

Instead, I left bewildered, but confident in my ability to hold back and not buy unnecessary items, tempting though it might have been.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dark Tide Rises Again

For the second year in a row, I forgot to mention the Great Molasses Flood on the actual anniversary day, which was Monday. If you've never heard the story of the molasses flood of 1919, then you simply must read my post from a year ago, which provides a summary and links to other articles with more details. Suffice it to say, it's one of my favorite Boston history stories of all time. I mean, it inspired a book called Dark Tide! How great is that?

Anyway, happy anniversary, Boston. I'll eat a molasses cookie in your honor.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Easily, the best moment of the Golden Globe Awards last night was Sacha Baron Cohen’s acceptance of his award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for Borat. Check it out here. (Or here.) (Or here.) (Or watch it below.)


Burrrrrrrr .....

I think winter is finally here. And I don't like it one bit.

It's amazing to me that I've lived in the northeast all my life, and yet I've never gotten used to the cold.


Foresight is 20/20

File this post under: Patting myself on the back; Ego stroking

Watching the Golden Globes Monday night, I was struck by how cool it is to know that I interviewed Jennifer Hudson before she became, well, Jennifer Hudson, Golden Globe winner, big huge star, and likely Oscar winner. So allow me to re-post a link to my story from the December issue of Continental magazine, and to send some public props out to Todd, who helped me set up the interview back in, like, September. And if you still haven't seen Dreamgirls, well, what are you waiting for? I've seen it twice and I'd gladly see it again. And again.

Maybe my review isn't enough and you need some further proof of how good the movie — and Jennifer herself — is. So here's a link to Jen's recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, where she performed "I'm Changing," or you can just watch it below. I'm so impressed that I got to chat with Jennifer on the way up. It's so cool. And I can't wait to say that I interviewed an Oscar winner. That's much cooler than being able to say I interviewed a Tony winner.

Anyway, enjoy this clip of Jennifer Hudson on Letterman and go see the movie.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Love for Sale?

So here's what I've never understood: has this offer where, if you spend a fruitless six months on the site, they'll give you another six months free. That makes no sense to me. If you've spent more than $100 on a web site that promises to help you find the love of your life, and you're unsuccessful after six months, seems to me you'd want your money back, not another six months free.


Let It Snow!

For some reason, "I'm dreaming of a white Martin Luther King Jr. Day" doesn't roll off the tongue like "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" does. So I guess it's a good thing that "Let It Snow" is a song that can be sung on any holiday, and since there's snow in the forecast today, even if it is just a slight chance and not until tonight, I thought I'd post this video of Jamie Cullum singing it on what looks like some British TV show. (And maybe by posting this, it'll work magic and we'll actually get a substantial snow storm. This has been a really lame winter so far.) Enjoy!

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

No Bark, No Bite

[Note: This review contains plot spoilers, so if you have any intention of seeing Alpha Dog, don't read this review until after you've done so. Or, read this review and change your mind about seeing it.]

There are a few things wrong with Alpha Dog, but one of the biggest — the plot — just can't be helped because the film is "inspired by actual events." Alpha Dog tells the story of Jonny Truelove (a.k.a. Jesse James Hollywood), a drug dealer who, to exact revenge on a delinquent customer, kidnaps Nick (Anton Yelchin), the customer's 15-year-old brother. Truelove's friends, including Frankie (Justin Timberlake), unwittingly go along with it, and show Nick a good time when he's left in Frankie's care. Had the film not been based on a true story, chances are it would have ended with Nick being returned to his family and Truelove behind bars, and the film would have come off like a fun story about this kid who was abducted and was actually better off for having had the experience. But that's not what actually went down, and the film takes a much darker turn that does it in.

Not that it would have been a much better movie had the kid lived. The script is generally lame, the acting doesn't help it, and together, it makes for a film about a bunch of not very likable, not very cool, not really tough, and actually, pretty lame people. And it's a shame, because not only did I think the trailer made the movie look pretty cool, but I've always sorta thought Emile Hirsch (who plays Truelove) was a pretty good actor (I particularly like him in The Girl Next Door) and I hoped Timberlake would be fun to watch, but neither one is particularly good (though I'd say Justin has his moments, and he's certainly better than Lance Bass was in On the Line). So, I'm calling Alpha Dog a disappointment. And I'm giving it a C–.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Welcome to the Wow

Just when I had adjusted to the three-hour time difference, I'm back from Vegas and very tired. Overall, it was a good trip, as I've already said: productive and cost-effective as far as my work objectives go, and fun as far as everything else goes. Here are some "reporter's notebook"-style things I thought I'd mention:

* According to the Consumer Electronics Association, this was the largest CES ever, with 1.8 million square feet of exhibit space and more than 140,000 attendees from across the globe. That's huge.

* Among the notable products I saw was: a cell phone that can broadcast live TV, a stereo attachment that makes MP3s sound better than CDs (and it actually works really well), a player that will work with both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs, a cell phone you can drop from six feet that won't break, a $1,200 high-end remote control (that's right, twelve-hundred dollars for a remote control), a zero-gravity massage chair, and much more. But as cool as some of the products at CES were, none came close to the iPhone. I was in the press room on Tuesday when details first started to emerge about it, and as people were logging onto Engadget and other sites, you would hear about it all across the room. "Oh cool!" "Did you see that?" "Check this out." "Oh man, I so want one of those." "Oh wow." It was pretty exciting, as "you had to be there" kinds of things go. Microsoft might have used the tagline "Welcome to the Wow" to launch Windows Vista at CES, but the iPhone was the real Wow of the show — and it wasn't even there. (Apple has its own show, in San Francisco.) And of course, I totally want one. (Then again, not everyone likes it.)

* It's amazing what suckers we all are for a big TV. Sharp's 108-incher put people into an almost-orgasmic state. Hordes would stand around and take pictures of the thing as if it was a celebrity or something. I mean, there was a model standing next to it too, but she got almost no attention. Still, there were so many TVs at CES that it kind of got a little boring and redundant, and eventually they all began to look alike because picture quality aside, they're basically just black rectangles. That said, you could stand there and stare at the clips from Ice Age, or the colorful promotional shots, or whatever was being shown, forever. And generally, the picture quality was impressive. (I hear you asking: So how much does a 108-inch LCD TV cost? Price is TBD, but if Panasonic's 103-inch plasma TV costs $70,000, then take your best guess.)

* 3 Doors Down did an acoustic set Tuesday afternoon on the ESPNHD stage. It was pretty cool. "Let Me Go" and "Be Like That" were particularly great.

* The more things change, the more they stay the same. Rhapsody has had the same basic booth for at least four years now: there's a fake game show host and a game show where three people answer music-related trivia questions. The other two times I went to CES I jumped at the chance to play, and I beat my opponents handily. Well, the game changed slightly this year, but it was basically the same. And suffice it to say, when I got my chance to play Tuesday afternoon, I kicked ass and took names once again. The other two didn't have a chance. Another change this year? Better prizes. No more messenger bags or blankets. Instead, I won a camcorder. I suppose I could have asked to trade for an MP3 player, but alas, I didn't want to be lame like that.

* One of the weirdest things about Vegas is that people don't cover their mouths when they cough there. I thought it was just the foreigners, but it seemed like no one was doing it. So gross. No wonder Airborne was giving out free samples at the show.

* Yahoo! gave out free Cold Stone Creamery ice cream in its Big Scoop tent. Yum. I had it twice. Yum yum. And while Krispy Kreme was also in the house (or at least in the convention center), I resisted. But by far, the best food I had all week was at the really slick Warner Brothers press event to launch Total HD, a new kind of DVD that has Blu-Ray content on one side and HD-DVD on the other. There was some freshly-sliced steak that I just kept going back for, and with the steak sauce ... Man-o-man was that good.

* Sometimes it's nice to be a member of the media. Wednesday afternoon I got a free massage at the new Qua spa at Caesars Palace. I had what they call the Raindrop Therapy massage, and without being all TMI, let me just say I haven't felt that good in a long, long time. Then that night, I was taken to dinner at Bradley Ogden, also at Caesars. And while my meal was good, it was the buttered, salted rolls that I really loved. I just couldn't figure out why they were so small, and why the waitress would only give me one at a time.

* Best thing I saw all week: two Elvis impersonators in full costume hanging out together at CVS on the Strip buying bottles of water. If I could have done it without being caught, I would have taken a picture. It was that funny. Only in Vegas ...

* I ended the week up $85 from playing about six hours of blackjack at New York New York. Go me. Sure, one night I was up $120 and another I was up $75 and didn't walk away, but a winner is a winner is a winner, and I played three nights, and each night I walked away up. I might actually be good at this game, and not just in Connecticut.

* Yes, I took more pictures of the Bellagio fountains and of Paris. What? You stand there and try not to capture how cool they are. At least I stood at different places every night so the pictures I took didn't all look alike. I may not be the world's wildest single male when I go to Vegas, but I certainly enjoy myself on my own terms. Each time I go back I challenge myself to take the best possible picture of the fountains. Don't think I did it this time, so I guess I'll have to go back and try again.

Anyway, there's more to tell, but I'll cut it off there. If you want to see more pictures of the show and Vegas in general, here's a link to my album. Otherwise, I'm done talking about it on here. Now it's back to work, back to life, back to reality. Oh well.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What a Show

You're not going to believe it's me saying this, but if I don't see another TV for a month, it will be too soon. After three days of CES, I've certainly seen enough of them. Plasmas, LCDs, 1080p full HD, etc etc etc. Each one bigger and blacker. LG has a 102-incher, Panasonic has a 103-incher, and Sharp has a 108-incher. Clearly, size matters. I've also seen a lot of cell phones, cameras, mp3 players, iPod accessories, camcorders, blah blah blah ... after three days of speaking to PR people and asking about availability and pricing, it's all blending together (good thing I've taken plenty of notes). And of course, nothing I've seen has been as cool as Apple's iPhone, which is not here because Apple doesn't do CES. Still, yesterday in the press room, it was all anyone was talking about.

Exhaustion aside, it's been a great show. And outside the Convention Center I've had fun too. Two minor (very minor) celeb sightings: Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling and I rode the monorail together yesterday morning (no, we didn't trade jokes), and Richard Greico (from 21 Jump Street) walked by me last night at the Bellagio, still looking stuck in the '80s. Went to a cool, very slick press conference/event for Warner Brothers last night where they announced their Total HD discs (and gave everyone a Superman t-shirt. Cool). I'm up $60 after about four hours total of blackjack at New York New York. I've got a suitcase full of stuff, some I'm keeping and some I'm giving away. The weather's been perfect — temps in the mid-60s with clear blue skies — and I haven't worn a jacket once.

So, it's been a good and productive and fun and overwhelming trip — but not painful like the last time I was here (and thank God for that). Still, despite lacking any backaches, I'm looking forward to my free massage this afternoon at the new Qua spa at Caesars Palace. More on that — and the trip in general — when I'm back in Boston. Right now I'm just trying to stay awake.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Showing Off

Hello from Las Vegas, where I'm at for a few days for the Consumer Electronics Show. It's my third time at the show and it's great fun, as work trips go. I'm so eager to see all the new cell phones, camcorders, TVs, etc. that I got to the show more than an hour too early today (I thought it opened at 9, but it opens at 10). Ha. But it's all good.

Anyway, just wanted to say a quick hello because this time I have a good excuse for not posting. If I find a couple minutes and something I can write about quickly, I'll try to say hi. Otherwise, I'll be back with pictures and stories and a fuller report later in the week.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Silent New Year

So how do I explain the fact that I've now gone almost a week without a single posting? Well, I can tell you it's not because I'm still in shock about the cancellation of The O.C. And it's not because I'm stunned it took so long for anyone else to notice the similarity between Leo DiCaprio and Eric Dane, which I've been saying since October. It also isn't because I've melted thanks to the unusually warm weather here in Boston. The truth is, I don't have a reason. But I've gotten enough questions about my blogging absence that I felt like I had to post something. So, here you go. I'm alive. Happy New Year, y'all.