Tuesday, January 29, 2008

We'll Always Have Remy

First I couldn't get tickets to see the games live. Now I learn that Red Sox broadcasts on NESN will be missing a certain somethin' somethin' because Tina Cervasio is leaving the station at the end of March to spend more time with her family. Rumor has it, that means she'll be joining the team at Fox 5 in New York. What a bummer. Well, best of luck to you, Tina. I'll miss you.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 28, 2008

See and Be Seen

Two PSAs for y'all ...

See them: People always complain that they're not interested in the Oscars because they haven't seen many of the nominated films. Well, the AMC theater chain is hosting an all-day marathon showing of the nominees for Best Picture on February 23, the day before the Oscars are handed out, at theaters all over the country. That's right: you can see Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood, and No Country for Old Men all in one day, one after another, and then you'll be ready for the big show. It'll cost you only $30, and when you buy your ticket, you'll also get a large popcorn with unlimited refills. Score! (Thanks to Dan for the heads up.)

See him: I'd tell you that Love Is a Mix Tape was my favorite book of 2007, but considering I only read three, that's probably not saying much. Still, Love was the first book I read start-to-finish in many years (too many, really), so that's saying something significant about how good it is. And this Wednesday, the book's author, Rob Sheffield, is going to be at Brookline Booksmith reading from and signing copies of his book. I'll be there. If you're looking for a great memoir about love, loss, and music, then come on down and meet Rob with me. The book is now out in paperback too, so you can buy your own copy.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008

All the Colors Came Out

Despite the weather outside, it was a beautiful day up in Reading today. I braved the elements so I could see U23D, which if you haven't heard, is the 3D IMAX film that captures the U2 Vertigo tour in all its glory. And oh man, does it ever. From the very first frame to the last, you are right there in the action. I mean, I've seen U2 live before. Technically, I suppose you could say that was 3D. But wow. This was, to make the obvious reference, even better than the real thing. First of all, it's a huge movie — in sight and sound. Bono is already a bigger-than-life figure, but this is crazy. And the bass literally shook the seats. Secondly, the camerawork is just amazing. Add in the 3D effects and you have a film experience that can't be duplicated. The crowd shots look so layered. The stadium, so deep. There were times when I thought people seated in front of me were up and dancing, but they were really on screen and not in the theater. Sure there are some gratuitous guitar-in-camera shots (mostly courtesy of Adam Clayton), but really, this is a rock show filmed with a minimum of cheese. It's the technology that makes it look even better, not anything the band is doing differently. For example, nearly every shot of Larry Mullen's drum kit is impressive. The set list includes 14 songs, and all are performed with the typical gusto, but for me, "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own" and "Where the Streets Have No Name" were highlights. The band plays "The Fly" during its encore, and it's notable, I think, more for the superimposed effects than for the music itself. If U23D doesn't exactly duplicate the concert-going experience — I felt sort of wimpy just sitting there and not applauding or cheering or singing along — then that's alright. It the next-best-thing to actually being there and it's a damned cool experience. I fully intend to go back and see the new Rolling Stones film, Shine a Light, when it plays on the IMAX screen. (All this can be yours too. Click here to find a theater showing U23D.)

Labels: ,

The Kids Are Back in Town

So not only are New Kids on the Block still hangin' tough, but apparently they're reuniting and going out on tour sometime this year. Seriously? Seriously. Ugh. This is just pathetic.


Today's Best Person in the World

Happy birthday to Keith Olbermann, who has been one of my favorite television personalities for a long time. He turns 49 years young today, January 27. I credit Keith with getting me more interested in current events than I had been previously. Talking with him was one of the highlights of my trip to see the Sox at Spring Training last year. I love when he makes fun of Bill-o or Coultergeist, and his Special Comments have become must-see TV. (By the way, the comments have all been compiled in a new book, Truth and Consequences.) I still miss his "My Hometown" segments, which he would do each night in the pre-Monica Lewinsky days. So, in honor of this occasion and in keeping with a regular segment on his nightly show, Countdown (airing 8 p.m. weekdays on MSNBC), I'd like to name Keith today's Best Person in the World. Here is a clip from last week that I enjoyed. I hope you will too. Keith Olbermann ... today's best person ... in the world!

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Blood

I went with Barry today to see There Will Be Blood and I've gotta say, I still think the movie is, ahem, bloody great. In fact, I'll go so far as to say I've now sat through this two-hour-and-forty-minute-long movie twice and I could certainly stand to do it again. And again. I can't quite explain it, but I feel the same way about P.T. Anderson's other epic-length movies, particularly Magnolia, in that I can watch them over and over and they never get tired. Here, Daniel Day-Lewis is just incredible, that music is awesome, the screenplay is great, the cinematography is breathtaking ... it's all just amazing. Even on a second viewing, the film didn't drag or anything. And, despite how many times I've repeated or used that milkshake line in recent weeks, it still works in context. Yeah, I really do like this movie. Have you seen it yet? No? Well, what are you waiting for? Go! Go now!


I've Got Nothing

Today is one of my least favorite days of the year. It's the day when I get my hopes up that maybe this will be the year I actually get through and am able to buy some Red Sox tickets — but instead I'm let down and ticketless. And every year it's the same old story: I wake up early, log onto redsox.com at exactly the right time, pick a game I really want to see (this year it was May 17 vs the Milwaukee Brewers), and then wait. And wait. And wait. And watch the Virtual Waiting Room refresh every 30 seconds. Refresh again. And again. And simultaneously, I'm calling on my cell and my home phone, and hearing a busy signal or that nice recording telling me that "All signals are busy right now. Please try again." And I know that all over the Boston area people are having the same experience as me. And finally, when I've had enough I just shut down the computer and walk away, a defeated man. Again. When I try some time later, of course tickets for the game I wanted to see are all gone. Really and seriously, I just want to know: how does someone like myself get tickets the day they go on sale? Why must I get shut out every year? When will the Sox figure out a way to put tickets on sale so that brokers are the ones that get screwed, not nice guys like me? I just want two tickets to one game. Is that asking so much?

And to add to the frustration, tickets for Gavin Degraw's March 1 show at the Paradise also went on sale today, and I was otherwise occupied the minute they went on sale, so when I called and logged on three hours later they were all gone. (No surprise there, though, given the small venue and the fact that I tried too late.) SO, I'm completely ticketless today for the events I wanted to see. That sucks.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

There Will Be Oscars

Oscar nominations this morning were basically as expected (for me, at least), but four things in particular are worth mentioning:

1. Tommy Lee Jones’ nomination for In the Valley of Elah was an awesome surprise. I liked the movie, and Jones’ performance in it is one of the best of the year. I said it when I saw the movie and I'm saying it now. Jones totally deserves his spot on the list. Even if he had to take the spot from Ryan Gosling or Denzel Washington.

2. That there is no nomination for Jonny Greenwood’s score for There Will Be Blood is just a crime. Music is as integral a part of that movie as Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance, and it too deserved to be recognized. Blood would still be great without the score, but it’s even better with it. [Update: Apparently, the score was not eligible. Who knew?]

3. Overjoyed that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova got a nomination for “Falling Slowly,” the song from Once. But jeez, the rest of that category is just embarrassing. Nothing from Hairspray or Into the Wild?? Hopefully “Falling Slowly” will be a lock to win now. As it should be anyway. (And in a perfect world, Once would also have been nominated for Best Picture.)

4. Norbit: 1, Hairspray: 0. That's just wrong on so many levels, even if Norbit's nom is for makeup (no surprise, I guess).

You know, some people make a big deal about how “no one’s seen (or heard of) the nominated films.” Well, whose problem is that? The films nominated are very good. Go see them! Especially There Will Be Blood. I may actually go see it for a second time this weekend. And I guess I'm going to have to go see Atonement now after all, even though I really don't have much interest.

But in the meantime, I'm rooting for most anything Blood-related. And so should you.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

They Might Be Giants ...

... but we can beat 'em. After all, we did just that three weeks ago.

Hey, the Pats have to beat up on someone in the Super Bowl. It might as well be a team from New York.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Some Thing Stupid

So here's my question: if some random monster was on the attack in your city, and you were running for your life, and you were filming everything on your camcorder, and it was nighttime ... at what point do you turn the camcorder off and just run like hell? That's the question I found myself asking multiple times during Cloverfield, the new flick from the J. J. Abrams factory. Essentially, Cloverfield is Godzilla crossed with The Blair Witch Project. It's a horror movie for the YouTube generation. Rob is moving to Japan, and on the night of his going away party, a huge monster attacks New York, sending Rob and his friends fleeing from the scene in search of survival (and possibly Rob's true love, if she's still alive). It's all told from the point of view of the guy who was asked to document the party, and the guy is so good at it that he leaves the camera running after the attack. And he keeps on recording. And recording. And recording.

Again, I ask you: at what point do you just shut the damned thing off?? About halfway through, someone actually says that to Hud (the guy filming it all), and he says he's doing it because people are going to want to know what happened. (How very YouTube-friendly he sounds.) But dude, tell me this: what's the point of filming in a subway tunnel??

Alright, fine. You've gotta go with that gimmick if you're going to see this movie. And you've gotta know it's going to be "rough," shaky footage that may make you queasy (as it did for Barry, who left the theater about halfway through). And if the jittery camera doesn't do you in, maybe the dialogue will. I mean, Hud is such a moron. Not only does he keep the camera going, but he asks the dumbest questions. And sure, the "natural"/vérité look of the film is pretty convincing. And the monster, when you see it, looks pretty cool. And at 1:24, this sure is a short movie. But yeah, the whole guy filming it all on the camcorder thing wears really thin very early on, before the monster has even attacked. And that pretty much kills what could have been a pretty cool monster movie. So even though the movie is short, it's not short enough. I'm giving Cloverfield a very disappointing C.

(And no, nowhere in the movie is there an explanation for why it's called Cloverfield. Also, despite what you may have heard, there is no reason to stay through the end credits. You'll only be subjected to some rather awful music and an interminable list of names.)


Swedish Goodness

I really need to move. I say that not because of my annoying neighbors but because I went to IKEA today and I wanted to buy so much stuff. I almost bought a new rug for the bedroom and new pictures for my wall and a knife set to sit on my kitchen counter and a new desk chair and this, that, and the other. Why not, right? It's all so cheap. Of course, I didn't buy any of it, and I kept my purchases to just the glasses I went for and a feather duster (random). But I know I have to ramp up my search so I can buy that stuff.

Not that the trip was a waste. After all, I ate well: Swedish meatballs and mac 'n' cheese for lunch, a cinnamon roll on the way out ... all the essentials. And it's always a fun (and easy) trip out to Stoughton. But yeah, I hope I move soon so I can go back and fill my new place with all kinds of IKEA crap.



The scoreboard now reads Martin: 1, Neighbors: 0. This morning, just after 9 a.m., my upstairs neighbor began to play her piano in the room right above my bedroom. Annoying. But then a violin joined in. Soon it sounded like there was a veritable chamber orchestra playing above my head, as I was trying to sleep in. So since my patience had finally run out, I decided to do what I should have done with my other neighbors a long, long time ago: I fought back. I grabbed a mop and banged on the ceiling three times. And what do you know, they stopped instantly. Minutes later, I looked out my window and saw my neighbor and her violin-playing friend (who, by the way, was not a violin-playing neighbor I knew about) scurry out of the building; they got in a car and drove away — most likely to a practice space at B.U., which if you ask me, is where they should have gone to begin with. What happened to common courtesy? I mean, do people really think that sort of thing is alright and that they won't be disturbing anyone? ARGH!!! So call me happy this morning, even if I got up earlier than I would have liked. That's the last time my neighbors will use this building to play their music. I hope they got the message.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Am Your BROTHER ... !

Aw jeez ... in a moment of weakness, that show can really crack me up. Check out this clip from Wednesday night's show — and then try to get the song out of your head.


Nice Jobs

What is it about Steve Jobs that makes his annual Macworld keynote address so damned engaging? I spent an hour and a half Tuesday night — after American Idol, of course — watching the video of his presentation while reading along with Engadget's running commentary. And I'll tell you, it was really fun. Yes, that's in spite of that fact that Steve didn't even announce anything nearly as exciting as the iPhone, like he did last year. (And I still have last year's keynote saved as a podcast in my iTunes.) But the point is, it's a keynote address, one that runs an hour and a half long, and it's about technology stuff, and it's very self-congratulatory. That's not supposed to be exciting. But believe me when I tell you it's really cool. If you love your iPod or your MacBook or your iMac (like I do), or you want one, I recommend watching. I doubt Steve will be remixed this year. Still, the real thing is pretty great.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

She's Still My Idol

American Idol starts tonight, so I thought I'd take a moment to play a quick game of "Where Is She Now?" with my favorite contestant from last year, Haley Scarnato. Thanks to Haley Source and MySA.com (and my crack team of Interweb researchers), I've learned that Haley is now living in Nashville working on a "country pop" album that'll be out sometime in 2008. On her allegedly official MySpace page you can hear one of her recent recordings. And apparently, she's still tight with Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks, and Chris Richardson, and she's going to be in Gina Glocksen's wedding. Actually, she's friends with Blake, Jordin, Gina, and Melinda Doolittle on MySpace. And speaking of weddings, some sad news: Haley's own engagement was called off sometime last year. She posted on MySpace on December 18 that it's been off for "quite a while now." Bobby, her ex, sent a message to Haley Source on October 18 that said Haley's busy career was to blame but that "I support her 100% and wish her the best. I will still be her number 1 fan and will always be there for her. Maybe in the future when things are more secure with our careers we can take time and catch up." Awwwwww. How sweet.

Anyway, I'm still wishing Haley nothing but the best. I'm sure no contestant will ever interest me like she did. And I'd like to say that I'm not going to get as into the show this year as I've been in years past, but with my other TV options being pretty minimal, I might as well just give in now. So you know you'll find my commentary here all season long. And Haley, if you're reading this and you're ever in Boston, look me up. I think there's time for us and your career.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 14, 2008

There Will Be Milkshakes

Thanks to Jeff Wells, who tipped me off to this pretty funny (albeit totally predictable and inevitable) mock trailer/music video for There Will Be Blood, a movie that I loved.

Labels: ,

Dark Day

This year I'm right on schedule. Finally. For the first time in the three years I've been keeping this blog, I'm actually going to have a post up about the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 on the actual anniversary day, which is tomorrow, January 15. Longtime readers of this blog know that this is one of my all-time favorite stories, historical or otherwise. Basically, if you've never heard of it before, 89 years ago, a huge tank of molasses — we're talking 50 feet tall and 240 feet wide — exploded, spilling 2.5 million gallons of molasses into Boston's North End. But it didn't just spill. It did so in the form of a wave about 10 feet tall that moved at a speed of 35 mph and exerted a pressure of 2 tons/foot. Years later, a book about the subject was written and it was called, of all things, Dark Tide. Sure, it's a tragic story (21 people were killed and 150 were injured) but don't you just love the visual of a giant wave of molasses plowing its way through the North End? Classic stuff right there.

Actually, last year Todd and I wrote our own little parody of the classic Paul Revere rhyme. It begins like this:
Gather my children and you shall smell
the scent of molasses — now run like hell!

We're also working (verrrry slowly) on a movie adaptation of the Dark Tide book. Anyone want to produce it?

For more about the flood, click here to read my post from two years ago. I'll be eating a molasses cookie in honor of this special day. You should too. Happy anniversary!


Snow Day!

I took my camera with me to work today, so here are some snowy shots of my 'hood. Click on each one to see a bigger version.

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tarnished Globes

Forget the winners — tonight's Golden Globe awards press conference was awful. Between Mary Hart's lame commentary, and all the other entertainment show hosts trying to one-up each other, the press conference itself sucked. And the TV coverage? Even worse. NBC didn't even show the press conference live, relying on Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell to announce the winners in their own mock press conference that trailed the real thing — thus rendering it instantly behind-the-curve and irrelevant. E! showed the press conference, but cut away every now and then to reaction from Ryan Seacrest and other folks in the E! studios. And the sound on CNN kept going out of synch, no doubt because Larry King kept making completely stupid comments after each announcement about how one movie or another was great or one of the year's best. (Of course they are, Larry. Why do you think they're nominated?) And the worst thing of all was when Johnny Depp won for best actor in a film, musical or comedy, and Larry King said something about how it was wrong that Daniel Day-Lewis wasn't nominated. Duh. He was nominated — in the category of best actor in a film, drama. (And he won for it, too.) But because CNN was the only network of the three that actually showed the press conference as it unfolded, without interruption, I stuck with CNN. And by 9:30, a half hour after it began, the whole thing was over. At that point, NBC was still half-way through making their announcements and discussing the winners. Oh, and did Billy Bush really dismiss Cate Blanchett's award-winning performance in I'm Not There by saying, "At the end of the day it's a woman imitating a man?" That guy has no business being an entertainment journalist. He's lame. NBC's coverage was lame. The whole thing was lame. And it wasn't even disappointing. Rather, as a film fan, a television fan, and a film awards show fan, it just made me angry. I really really hope this writers strike ends ASAP so we can get back our TV shows and the Oscars can go on as they should be going on, not like this awful attempt at television.

Labels: ,

No Swing Is a Real Miss

I'm really missing baseball these days. I miss coming home from work and knowing there's a game on (especially with there being not much else good on TV anymore). I miss reading about the Sox in the Globe every day. I miss making fun of Dice-K. I miss Papi and Mike Lowell and all the boys, whether it's news about them or just their smiling, happy faces in the newspaper every morning. I miss the whole thing. It's not like there's a void in the Boston sports world or anything, and football's exciting, but those games only happen on Sundays (or Saturday nights), and basketball and hockey do nothing for me. Baseball's something you can count on, for at least eight months of the year. From March to October there's a baseball game on most every night of the week. This gap between the seasons is just too long, especially with there being no significant trade or contract talks going on lately (even a possible Santana deal isn't all that buzzworthy right now). Jeez, pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers in about a month, and I'm already antsy. Bring it on!


Trying Some New Places

I guess I'd like to make a belated New Year's Resolution: to try new things. And specifically, new restaurants and new foods. Already this year I've been to two new restaurants. Well, not new, per se, but they're new to me. Today I went with Sarah, Amy and Sherri to Victoria's Diner. Way out of nowhere location aside, this was a real nice surprise of a brunch place. The interior is much nicer than the exterior would lead one to believe, and the food was real tasty. I had the Nutella Smothered French Toast. It's not quite what the menu promises, but yummmmm. Three slices of french toast covered in Nutella, with strawberries (which I didn't eat). I highly recommend it, and hope to go back and have this again soon.

Last week after the movie, Nina and I decided to have dinner at Stephanie's on Newbury, a place that amazingly, I had never been to before. The Mac 'n' Cheese wasn't as good as the stuff at, say, Silvertone, but it was good and worth going back for. And it's nice to go somewhere nicer and know there's something on the menu I can eat. I was also impressed with how big the place was. I mean, not that it looks small from the outside, but I didn't realize it was so deep inside.

Alright, fine. I know what you're saying: You went to two new places and you had food you knew you already liked. True. But it's still good to broaden my horizons beyond the normal places I go. And I hope to do more of that as 2008 continues.

Labels: ,

It's Not a Cold

All week I've been trying to stave off a cold. Or at least what I thought was a cold. But it turns out I may just have winter allergies, which I'm learning are more common than I thought. After all, if the only symptoms are sneezing, runny nose, and occasional watery eyes, and I'm not feeling run down and I don't have a sore throat, etc. then it has to be allergies, right? Especially with the way the temperatures here in Boston have been fluctuating, I'm sure there are all kinds of irritants in the air. And I mean, when you go to CVS and you look at all the cold remedies, the ones that treat my symptoms are all labeled "allergy" medication. And Claritin-D seems to be working so well today. And, this would partly explain why the Zicam didn't do squat all week. So, I'm making a self-diagnosis. I don't have a cold, I have allergies. Phew!

Labels: ,

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bloody Great

Just like the way the oil flows from the oil wells in There Will Be Blood, so flows my enthusiasm for this movie. Wow. It is so good. This is why I should have waited to write my top 10 list.

The latest from P.T. Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights) tells the epic story of Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), a greedy sumbitch oil man at the turn of the century who will stop at nothing to lease land and drain it of all its oil. Plainview and his son travel from town to town convincing the residents they live on valuable real estate and that they can all share in the wealth. (Ha!) It's all pretty easy until he meets Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), whose evangelism and greed when it comes to his church rivals Plainview's financial greed.

Central to the film's excellence is Daniel Day-Lewis, who gives a performance that is so captivating, so badass, so powerful, so riveting, so excellent that it surely rivals any of his best and certainly puts him in the top two Oscar contenders for the year. Also worth mentioning is the score by Jonny Greenwood (of Radiohead), which is so ominous and note-perfect. The screenplay by Anderson contains such great dialogue and an awesome last line — "I'm finished." Really, I can't say enough about how much I like this movie ...

... But I'll go on; there's so much more to rave about. There Will Be Blood takes its time. It's two-hours-and-forty-minutes–long, so don't expect a fast-paced tale. That said, not a single minute drags or feels like it should have been cut. When the oil bursts from the well in Little Boston, it's one of the most exciting scenes in the movies all year. And there are some fantastic wide tracking shots that follow the action and just linger. It's all so so cool.

You must see this movie. You must see this movie on the big screen. You must see this movie now. Go. Stop reading my review and see it as soon as possible. I'm giving There Will Be Blood an A.