Thursday, August 30, 2007

So What?

Big deal. The Yankees swept us this week. I feel no sense of deja vu. After all, we're still in first place by five games. The next time we meet up with the Yankees — right here in Fenway Park — we could be 10 or 12 games up. That's how confident I am. So all you Yankee fans out there can just go enjoy your sweep. But don't get too used to it.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I've been good all season, but I just couldn't resist reposting one of my all-time favorite photos after Monday night's humiliating loss. 16-0. That hurts, don't it?

Ha ha! And now, as the Red Sox gear up to play three in the Bronx, up a whopping eight games — !!! — in the division standings, and with the Boston Herald proclaiming that It's Over, that for all intents and purposes we've already clinched the division, it sure is good to be a Red Sox fan. Let's just hope Dice-K (or Eric Gagne) doesn't screw it all up and kill the momentum tonight.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

And I Am Telling You ...

To paraphrase the oft-quoted line from The Godfather: Part III, "Just when I thought I was moving out, they pull me back in." Or, as Effie White sings in Dreamgirls, "And I am telling you, I'm not going." I could keep quoting movie lines, but the fact remains: I'm not moving. At least not yet. Today I reached an agreement with my new landlord to stay in my current apartment until at least the end of March. They wouldn't let me go month-to-month or sign a six-month lease. So, my condo search is on hold for a while.

... Which isn't really so bad, considering I love where I live. Sure, I'm going to have to pay more to stay here (including $1.75 a load to do my laundry — argh!!!!), but I expect to get some new appliances out of the deal, and I can delay the hassle of moving until the spring. And who doesn't enjoy a summertime housewarming party, right? So yeah, consider this post my closing the loop on that story. For now.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Is Summer Over Already?

Everyone has their favorite way of marking when seasons change. For example, does summer end on Labor Day? On September 1? On September 21? On Rosh Hashannah? When baseball season ends? When the Red Sox' season ends? When football season begins? When the new TV season begins? Well, if you look around, you may see signs that summer is coming to a close are all around.

One of the biggest is that the gate to the parking lot at the Allston Shaw's on Comm Ave. is now closed and you need to get a ticket before entering. When the college kids leave town, Shaw's opens the gate permanently and laxes the restrictions on parking in the lot. But the gate going down means the students are returning. And sure enough, there were plenty of them all over Shaw's Sunday night. Ugh. It means do your grocery shopping earlier (by all means, before 4pm on Sundays). It means the streets and the T are going to get more crowded. It means ... summer is ending soon.

Another is my annual excursion with Dave and Scott (and their families) to Rye Playland and T.G.I. Friday's. We started doing it back in 1992 before we (and five other friends) left for college, and we've made it a tradition to go sometime in August every year. This past Saturday we rode the Dragon Coaster and all the other rides for the 16th straight year. (Sixteen!) Amazing, I thought, that we've been going there that long and the park is basically exactly the same as it was when we first started going. It means people still enjoy an old-fashioned good time. It means Dave, Scott, and I are all still in touch. And it also means ... summer is ending soon.

And then there's the whole moving thing. My apartment building is emptying out. It's largely because of the excessive increase in rent, and I've heard that come September 1, the place will only be about half full. That's crazy. My across-the-hall neighbor is gone (bummer). My next-door neighbor (the loud one I don't like) is gone (woo hoo!). Who knows who's moving in (or when I'll be moving out as well), but it means the place is going to be quieter for a little while. It means I have a better chance of doing my laundry whenever I want (for at least a couple weeks). It means soon there may be new people moving in — here and in other buildings all across the city. It means ... summer is ending soon.

But living in Boston, I choose to go with the Head of the Charles as my marker for the end of summer. After all, the season starts late so it should end late too, and while the temperatures do get cooler in late September and early October, there's always at least one weekend where we get a last gasp of warm weather. It means there's still plenty to look forward to. It means there's no need to worry. It means ... summer isn't ending just yet.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Bah Humbug

Jeez ... someone forgot to put sugar in Virginia Heffernan's coffee this morning — or rather, whenever it was that she watched High School Musical 2 and wrote her review for The New York Times. Of the movie, she writes that there's "so much to hate. Just search the bottom of your shriveled little sunless heart. You’ll figure it out. The widespread pressure to embrace the experience as kitsch only twists the knife. This is supposed to be the time of your life, and yet — oh brother. Just like high school. Just like a musical." She criticizes the bad lip-synching, the tanned skin (mind you, the movie takes place in the summer), the dancing ... she just really didn't like it. And yet, she ends her review this way: "The movie is mediocre, and should be skipped. But I can’t wait to buy the soundtrack and do the karaoke." So at least she doesn't have a heart completely full of coal.

But, I mean, really. It sounds like she totally missed the point, and the fact that she's making fun of the lip-synching and the tans means she was really looking for something to criticize. This movie is a harmless, silly trifle (I assume. It premieres tonight and I haven't seen it yet). Sure, the first one was pretty awful, but it was fun and I do expect to watch the sequel. And sure, HSM2's main target audience (not me, of course, but the pre-pubescent folks and tweens) aren't the same folks who read the NYT. So then, what was the point in Heffernan ripping the movie a new one with such utter contempt? Was it just on general principle, out of spite, or simply because she could? Seems like a waste of time to me. Still, I feel a great need to smile in her general direction or go bring her a cupcake with lots of sugary sweet frosting. Cheer up, Virginia. Go get some sunshine.

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Let the Music Play

The kind folks at Philips sent me a press release Thursday announcing that today, August 17, is the 25th birthday of the compact disc. Did you know the CD was that old (or that young, depending on your perspective)? And did you know that the first CD to be manufactured was The Visitors, by ABBA? Over the past 25 years, more than 200 billion CDs have been sold. That's a hell of a lot of music. So it got me thinking: How many CDs do I own, and of them, which are my favorites?

Well, I wouldn't even want to know how many I own. I think I got my first CD player and CDs when I was around 11, sometime around 1985. But to be honest, I'm sort of embarrassed that I can't remember. Today, if you saw my apartment, you'd see stacks and stacks of music. There's a CD tower, CDs stacked two layers deep on bookshelves, and CDs in a tupperware container under my bed. That's music I've bought, and mixes I've burned (like this one and this one). It has to be close to 500 CDs. Maybe more. It's insane.

As for my favorite CDs from the past 25 years, well, that's a harder question to answer. But certain albums always sound good, so off the top of my head, here are some of the CDs that seem to be in perpetual rotation, in no particular order:
* Gold, by Ryan Adams
* Back to Black, by Amy Winehouse
* Shine, by the Pat McGee Band
* Gordon, by Barenaked Ladies
* MTV Unplugged, by 10,000 Maniacs
* The Dance, by Fleetwood Mac
* Twentysomething, by Jamie Cullum
* Chariot, by Gavin DeGraw
* For the Kids (Vol. 1), by Various Artists
* For Me, It's You, by Train
* Painted from Memory, by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello

If I had to pick a list of "desert island CDs," that'd be a chunk of them. So now I ask you: What are your favorite CDs — not the best CDs, just your favorites — of the past 25 years? Not albums reissued on CD, but albums originally released on CD in the past 25 years. I really want to know. Put your answer in the comments field below.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Calling All Nannies!

I received a press release from the Weinstein Company this afternoon alerting me that to promote the new movie The Nanny Diaries, which hits theaters next Friday (8/24), companies around the country have banded together to create Nanny Week, and to offer special discounts to those who toil each day supervising children. How nice, right? Well, the cool thing is, why limit the promotion to just those few people? So the coupons — which are good at places like Baskin-Robbins, Blockbuster, and Victoria's Secret — are available to anyone, no proof of child supervision required. Click here to check it out. The promotion and coupons are only good from tomorrow (8/17) to next Friday, so don't wait too long to take advantage. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Geek City

As the saying goes, If You Lived Here, You'd Be Blogging Right Now. I read in the Boston Globe this morning that according to the Web site, Boston is the bloggiest city in the country, with 89 posts per 100,000 residents recorded in March and April of this year. Good for us. I guess we have a lot to say. But it brings up an interesting question: what was I saying back then? Let's take a trip in the wayback machine, shall we?

Ahh, March and April. Those were the good ole days of Haley Scarnato. When Dice-K was just bad, not quite awful yet. Back then I was listening to Amy Winehouse and making fun of Best Buy (how times have changed). There were good movies and not-so-good ones. Ah yes, March and April. Those were good times. No wonder I was blogging so much. And to think, we only had one more post than the greater Philadelphia area. I wonder if they counted this one or this one. Either way, I say Ha! Take that, Philly! (And yes, that was said with all due sarcasm.)

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Welcome to P-Town

It's really a shame that Talk to Me hasn't found a bigger audience this summer, but I guess it's not really too surprising. After all, how can a bio-pic about a Black radio DJ compete with the action of The Bourne Ultimatum or the humor of Superbad? The answer is it should have, because while Talk to Me might not have explosions, it does have an explosive performance by the always reliable Don Cheadle, making this the second great one he's turned in this year (the other being Reign Over Me).

As noted, Talk to Me tells the story of Petey Greene, an ex-con who worked for a time at Washington, D.C. radio station WOL and became a hero in the urban community for discussing life in an uncensored, unvarnished style — basically telling it like it is. The film describes how Greene initially unsettled his white bosses, but ultimately earned a regular gig when he calmed his listeners following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. It then shows how Greene became a media sensation with stand-up comedy gigs and a regular television show. (Here is a famous clip where Greene described the "proper" way to eat watermelon.)

But the film is more than that, and really, at its core, it concerns the relationship between Greene and his boss/manager/friend, Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor), two Black men coming from different places and points of view. While Greene is a product of the streets and sees himself as a real Black man, he views Hughes as simply a white man with a tan because he has assimilated into the establishment. Hughes views Johnny Carson as a hero, and he tries to make Greene more like him. But more importantly, the two men share a tight bond: one says what the other wants to say, and the other needs the other to say what he wants to say. Ejiofor (Love Actually, Children of Men) paints a sympathetic portrait of Hughes, and portrays him as a seeming polar opposite of the more raucous Greene. It's a very good performance.

Talk to Me isn't perfect entertainment; it feels longer than its two-hour running time and were it not for the Hughes-Greene dynamic, it'd be a pretty standard-issue film, with a plot similar in nature to Good Morning Vietnam. But Cheadle, as always, makes the movie worth seeing, and he's also supported by Cedric the Entertainer, as another DJ at the station, and Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow), who brings laughs and excitement to her role as Greene's girlfriend. If you can still find it in a theater near you, I'd say the movie's worth seeing. I'm going to give it a strong B.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Good News for Dice-K

Congrats, Dice-K, you now have some company on my "least favorite Red Sox players" list: Eric Gagne, who may just suck more than you do. He came into today's game with a 16.20 ERA in Boston — sixteen-point-two!! — and then he gave up a two-run home run to Miguel Tejada in the bottom of the 8th, which tied the game at 3-3. Your teammate has now given up seven runs with the Red Sox, just one less than he had given up when he was with Texas the entire first part of the season, and he hasn't even pitched five full innings for us yet! And then the Sox end up losing the game — thanks to a walk-off three-run homer by Kevin Millar, of all people. Now the Yankees are just four games behind in second place. Jeez ... Who'da thunk this trade would turn out so badly?


Brokeback Entourage?

If you're as big a fan of the TV show Entourage as I am, you know this video is complete fiction and totally ironic. It's also really good and very funny. It's perfectly edited, and uses the Brokeback music so well that you might think this is actually what the show is about. And it's better than this version, about two different characters on the show. Have a watch.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

It's More Like Lame Buy

Saturday was day one of the tax-free shopping weekend, so I did what I assumed many other folks would do and headed out to Best Buy. And not just any Best Buy, but the brand spanking new one at the corner of Newbury St. and Mass Ave. I figured it'd be crowded when I got there around 12:30, and that I'd be one of many looking at the TVs, DVD players, CDs, DVDs, and other stuff (not that I needed anything, but it's fun to look).

Well, the place was practically empty. But more depressing — at least for me — was the feeling that this was the worst Best Buy store ever. It's partly because I knew what was there before, and I had fond memories (all things considered) of spending — alright, wasting — an hour or more listening to CDs on listening stations or watching movies in the DVD section, or browsing through magazines or books. Even when it was the overpriced Virgin Megastore, there still was plenty to do and entertain yourself with. The sterile blue carpets of Best Buy conveyed a whole different atmosphere, and on the demo TVs wasn't any cool new whizz-bang DVD release, but Discovery Channel crap. And of course, Best Buy doesn't do listening stations, so that option was out. And worst of all, the CD and DVD section — located all the way up and seemingly hidden at the back of the top floor — was so meager that the couple DVDs I might have bought weren't even on sale (and wouldn't be, I was told, because everything that was at the warehouse had been put out). Add to that a lot of space — empty, wasted space (particularly on the first floor) — and a ton of salespeople just standing around, and it really felt like a great crime had been committed against a beloved city landmark.

As a frequent music/movie buyer, I had hoped this new Best Buy would have been good for Newbury St. At the very least, it might have spurred some price competition with Newbury Comics. But given that the focus of the store is squarely on electronics (and stuff people can't even walk out of the store with), it looks like that won't be happening. And given that the store is so sterile and clean and, well, boring, I can't see myself having any real incentive to hang out or spend money there anytime soon.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Le Camembert! Jacques Cousteau! Baguette!

I'm not going to apologize for a second Flight of the Conchords post in a row because last night's episode had to be the second funniest episode of the season (episode one still reigns supreme). Here are two clips from the show I wanted to share. All I'm going to say is, "Just because you've been exploring my mouth, it doesn't mean you get to take an expedition further South.... Just because we've been playing tonsil hockey, it doesn't mean you get to score the goal that's in my jockey." It's tres magnifique! Enjoy.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

I'm Into It. Are You?

I've been a fan of the HBO show Flight of the Conchords since it first debuted (here's an earlier post about it). While the show hasn't always been as uproarious as that first episode, the music's been pretty consistently funny. And, I'm a big fan of Jemaine Clement; the guy just looks funny. For your weekend viewing pleasure, thought I'd share this clip from a recent episode. It's a little ditty called "If You're Into It." This is what the show considers a romantic song. (And, it features a guest appearance by Sutton Foster, who I interviewed for Continental a couple years ago.) Enjoy. If you want an MP3 of the song, click here. (It's courtesy of My Old Kentucky Blog.) More video from the show can be found here. And of course, the show itself is on Sunday nights at 10:30, right after Entourage. It could be a dream come true ... if that's what you're into.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Will It Explode?

Thanks to's Pop Watch blog for this awesome time waster. It's almost like a sequel to Will It, which I wrote about a few weeks back. On this site, you can watch stuff get blow'd up in a microwave. Totally juvenile, but there's something really entertaining about watching marshmallows or roll-on deodorant or ketchup packets going boom. So, go to the site, watch for yourself, and enjoy.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Grandpa Martin?

I think I slept funny last night, because my back's been bothering me all day. And it was no fun to have a four-hour meeting where I had to sit in an uncomfortable chair the whole time, but worse might have been walking around the office with my hand on my back, in a small degree of agony. And worse than that may have been the feeling that if I've got back pain, then I must be getting old. What's next? Will my hair start turning gray? Will I start yelling at "young'uns" on the T just for the hell of it? Will I start talking more and more about the good old days? Will I start to eat liquid meals? I don't want to be old. At least not yet.


Bourne Again

From the very beginning, the Bourne movies have been thinking person's action films: they're dense with plot, well-acted, and filled with exciting action scenes. The Bourne Ultimatum is no exception to that rule. It starts off with a chase in Moscow, filmed with handheld cameras in a style that puts you right in the middle of the action and heightens the suspense, and doesn't let up until its conclusion less than two hours later (talk about an efficient film). Damon, as always, is great, and he's joined here by Joan Allen (reprising her role from The Bourne Supremacy), David Strathairn, and Albert Finney. The handheld camerawork continues throughout the film, giving it a jittery look, and director Paul Greengrass (also returning from Supremacy) stages an edge of your seat chase through Tangiers and a short but effective one in New York with Bourne driving a police car, both of which are really cool. But some of the dialogue feels stilted, and I don't think the movie's as good or exciting as Supremacy was. Still, calling Ultimatum the lesser of the three films is like saying chocolate is the worst ice cream flavor — it may be lacking in ingredients, but it's still pretty darned good. And that's why I'm giving Ultimatum a B+.