Sunday, March 30, 2008

Springtime for Hitters

Now that Opening Day is here and more teams than just the Red Sox are playing baseball games that count, I think that makes it official: Spring is here!

Forget Christmastime — but just for a minute. This is the most wonderful time of the year. Baseball is back! Hooray!


Friday, March 28, 2008

Shabbat Shalom, Y'all!

Don't watch this if you're SHOMER SHABBOS! Especially not if you're SHOMER F'ING SHABBOS!


It's Mine! All Mine!

Funny thing about closings: They're pretty anti-climactic. The hard work and discussion and heavy lifting had all taken place earlier as the process moved along. All that was left was for me to hand over some money and sign lots and lots of documents. So, I sat there at the table on Thursday signing page after page, initialing here, giving my full name there. Meanwhile, my broker and my lending agent just sat and watched. The whole thing took about a half hour and was really no big deal. We laughed, we joked. It was actually fun. And then, without warning, my lawyer stopped passing documents my way and I actually had to ask him, "Is that it?" And that was it. Without fanfare or a marking of the significance, I became a homeowner. Just like that. Not that I expected trumpets or balloons or even confetti, but, you know, this is a pretty big deal and it pretty much just passed.

So, I made my own excitement. I made my first of what will likely be many trips to Target. I went looking at new furniture (didn't buy any, though). I bought all new dishes and silverware and I sat in the condo watching and listening as my new dishwasher got 'em clean. (Oh, how I love having a dishwasher.) I got dinner from one of the neighboring take-out spots and ate at the counter in my place. I did a little cleaning. And I basically just tried to soak in the fact that I was all grownz'd up, with a mortgage, equity, roots, and a condo (in Newton!) that I could call my very own. I'll tell you this much: It felt really good.

There's lots to do in the next week before the moving truck comes. Not surprisingly, I have a sudden urge to fill up some boxes and get out of my current place and into the new one. And of course, to get me de t-shirt with the alligator on.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Somewhere in the Middle

Good news: The Boston Phoenix again left me off their list of the 100 unsexiest men of the year, instead choosing to give the distinction to folks like Mike Huckabee, Project Runway winner Christian Siriano, and Bret Michaels. But I'm confused. The Phoenix thinks I'm not unsexy, and People thinks I'm not sexy enough. Does that make me just average?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

With Apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before closing
And all through my place,
The boxes are sitting here
Taking up space.

They're all in the way,
There's nothing inside.
"You've got to start packing!"
My family has cried.

On bookshelves, on tables,
In closets and drawers,
My stuff has to leave,
Can't stay here no more.

But first there's a matter
Of higher import.
A check is still waiting,
And lawyers of some sort.

The closing will happen.
The forms will be signed.
And then I can say,
"This apartment is mine!"

And then I'll start packing,
I'll get on my way.
For now I'm excited
For a very big day!


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I must really be tapping into something here. Yesterday and linked to me, driving more than 500 hits to this very blog. Now today, Globe critic Ty Burr is linking here from his own blog on I guess I must be doing something right. And thanks to someone named Brian Keaney for alerting Ty about my post.

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That's One

One win for the Sox.
One come-from-behind win for the Sox.
One lame performance by Dice-K.
One game where J.D. Drew’s absence was felt (in a good way).
One game where Manny came through twice.
One game where Ellsbury made an awesome catch.
One crucial bunt by Pedroia.
One playing of “Shipping Up to Boston” to greet Pap.

One down, many more games to go. Woo hoo!!! Baseball's back!


I Love the Sight of Red Sox in the Morning

There's something really odd about waking up early (early for me, anyway. I wasn't going to wake up at 6am) to watch baseball being played live in Japan. But at the same time, I woke up just in time to see the Sox come back in sixth inning, and that was pretty cool. It was fun seeing Pedroia and Manny get big hits. Funny to see that Dice-K must have sucked if the team was losing when I turned on the TV (jeeeez, some things don't ever change — even in his home country). And just good to see the team on the field, playing a close game (too close), that actually counts. All is right with the world again: baseball is back. And hey, it sure does beat watching V.B. and Kim Carrigan.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Giving Dyngus Its Due

Oh my God, I totally spaced and forgot to wish y'all a Happy Dyngus Day. Thankfully, Keith Olbermann was there to remind me of this special occasion.

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Hi There.

If you're reading this, there's a very good chance you've come here from either or, both of which have provided links to my site today. UHub is linking to my graffiti post. The link on (which is in the right-hand column, about halfway down the screen, under "New England Blogs") directs you to my packing and purging post. So if you're new to my site, I just wanted to say "Welcome!" I hope you'll come back often.

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Thinking Out of the Box

I'm just a few short days away from officially being a homeowner, and less than two weeks from moving into my new condo, so I figure it's high time I made a real dent in my packing. But first, some purging. Lots and lots of purging. It'll definitely help the cause if I have less to pack. The biggest dent was made in my book collection, which, after six years of living in one place, had swelled to ridiculous proportions. I'm lucky in that I get a lot of free stuff sent to me at work, but I'm also a sucker because over the past 6.5 years I've brought much of it home. Today I'm happy to report that most of it has gone right back from whence it came. I packed up two boxes of books — travel books, advance copies of best-sellers, random books I thought were funny, a couple cookbooks, a couple books I'd started reading but will likely never finish, a duplicate copy of a book I must have bought twice, other books I'd read and will never look at again, and one book I had purchased and actually had signed (to me) by the author — and Sunday I dropped them off at the office for some lucky souls to take home. Their problem now, not mine. The funny thing about it, I suppose, is that of all the books I brought in (and there were plenty, as you can see), I had actually bought maybe 5, but no more than 10, of them. So clearly, I need to learn restraint whenever I get something in the mail.

Of course, I still have plenty of books and stuff left on my bookshelves, but the point is, I have less of it now. Far less than what I had. My shelves were overflowing and there were multiple stacks of books on my floors, just collecting dust. So goodbye to unneeded clutter. Same goes for my magazine collection. This weekend I filled up four garbage bags of old magazines and dumped 'em. I did what were likely my last two loads of laundry in my building on Sunday night and instead of washing some old t-shirts, I just threw them away. I did the same with some discolored glasses and old bowls I hadn't used in three years. After all, I already had new glasses from my recent trip to IKEA (unopened, I might add), so that's one less thing I have to pack.

Point is, I'm being productive here, even if there aren't so many boxes actually packed. I really can't wait to move, and not just because of my instrument-playing neighbors. It's very exciting to close a chapter in your life both symbolically and literally — when you get rid of stuff you've owned for too long — and while packing up to move is definitely a chore, I can say I'm enjoying this part of the process.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Mmmmmmm ...

Farry and Barrah took me to a new brunch place this morning (at least, a new one to me), and all I can say is "mmmmmmm..." Mel's Commonwealth Cafe is located on Rte. 30 as you're going from Waltham to Natick, and man, is it ever worth the drive. It's a nice place, and sure, it was Easter, but it wasn't overly crowded at 11:30 on a Sunday morning. I wasn't able to have what I wanted — Fried Dough French Toast, which sounded so good, because they'd just run out minutes earlier — so Plan B was a dish called Country Inn French Toast, which was a moist, sweet French Toast made with a cinnamon swirl bread. Mmmmmmm ... I'd have shared it, but I just couldn't bear to part with a single piece. Barry had a Philly Cheese Steak Omelette, and that too looked good, as did the Yogurt Waffle that Farrah had. (I mention what we all had not to rat anyone out, but to show some of the yummy options because two of these three are not on the online menu.) I'm definitely going back to Mel's, and I hope I do so soon. It's nice to have another great brunch option besides Johnny's. Mmmmmmm ...!!

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You Think?

Random graffiti of the day:

I saw this right off Gardner St., the street that runs parallel to Comm Ave. near Shaw's, in Allston. It was on the wall behind the T-Mobile store.

Some neighborhoods have gang-related graffiti, others have large artwork. My neighborhood has film criticism. Hmmmmm ...

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It's Back

Great news! After an extended absence, the flute playing next door has returned. So clearly, even though my neighbors were spoken to not once but twice by my building management company about their incessant, annoying violin playing, the message didn't get through about how they should be practicing at their school and not in the building. As if I needed another reason to be happy that I'm moving in less than two weeks. I really hope these two girls in apartment 28 get a new neighbor who is less patient than I have been.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Talented Mr. Minghella

Just a short note to mark the passing of Anthony Minghella, who wrote and directed one of my all-time favorite movies, The Talented Mr. Ripley. Minghella also directed The English Patient and Cold Mountain, among other films, but for me, Ripley will stand as his greatest achievement. This film, alternately a thriller and a sad meditation on identity, always affects me when I see it. Matt Damon gives his best performance to date, and Minghella filmed it all beautifully, creating a virtual postcard of Italy that makes me long to visit. The ending is particularly well shot and edited nicely, and the score throughout is one of my favorites. If you've never seen Ripley, now is as good a time as any to rent or buy it. Do it as a tribute to Anthony Minghella, who will surely be missed.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Movin' On Up

As a soon-to-be homeowner, I certainly have a different way of reading real estate news and articles pertaining to the best neighborhoods, etc. For example, in yesterday's Boston Globe Magazine I saw that my new zip code — 02467 — was listed as the third-best ZIP code in Massachusetts (within I-495, that is) because of the jump in single-family home prices and the abundance of retail stores. For me, that's a jump from seventh place, where my current ZIP code is listed. Now, of course, I can't claim any real personal investment in 02446 because currently I only rent, but it's nice to know my choice of a new home is a step up in the right direction.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tracy Jordan Is the New Tina Fey

If you saw Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, you know she declared "Bitch is the new black." Well, last night Tracy Jordan aired a response. And since I actually have a favorite candidate in this election, I thought I'd post the clip here. Enjoy.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008


'90s nostalgia comes in two flavors: welcomed and unwelcomed. The New Kids reunion? Unwelcomed. A new Beverly Hills 90210? Very much welcomed.

That's right, kids. The CW is developing a "contemporary spinoff" of 90210 to be written by Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars. No word yet on which former cast members will appear in the show, but apparently it's been "fast tracked" and if all goes well, it could be on the air later this year. I just hope the show is more like the original series' first five seasons (through sophomore year of college) and not the later ones.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Play Ball!

As promised, here is a link to many of my pics from my trip to Florida, where I went to three spring training games: Dodgers vs Cardinals on Friday in Vero Beach, Orioles vs Mets on Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, and Orioles vs Dodgers on Monday in Fort Lauderdale. Plenty of Nomar, Millar, Torre, Juan Pierre, and other players — if that's what you're into. And if it is, click here to see the photos.

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Welcome Home

I touched down at Logan Tuesday night happy to be home. Happy to be out of the sun, and happy to let my sunburn fade and peel off. And of course, I have much to look forward to in the next couple weeks with my new condo. But I have to say, all that aside, few things made me happier to be home than to get off the plane and hear James Taylor's soothing, dulcet voice singing "You've Got a Friend" over the airport PA system. I'm sure it was just a coincidence, but what a nice thing to get off the plane and hear music from a Boston-based artist. I'm not saying I would have had the same reaction if I'd heard, oh, "More than a Feeling" or "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," so I guess this was just the right song at the right time. It made the fact that a great vacation was over feel that much easier.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Earfro and Ugly Dogs

A double feature of ugliness for your viewing pleasure, courtesy of Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Dodger Blue, Cardinal Red, and Oriole Orange

The good news is that, despite reports to the contrary, Nomar Garciaparra is, in fact, signing autographs down in Florida at Dodgertown, the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring training home. I know this because I saw it first-hand on Friday when me and my dad took a day trip up to Vero Beach for some baseball action. This was our second annual father-son bonding/spring training trip, and the first of what will be three games this weekend. (Last year we saw the Sox in Fort Myers; this year we couldn't get tickets. What a surprise.)

Dodgertown is a pretty cool place to spend the day. It's a complex, and the practice fields and the stadium (more like a field with seats for the fans) are all in one place. And that allows for more up-close-and-personal interaction than you would get, say, in Fort Myers at this point in spring training. I got some great great photos (stay tuned for more of those later) and we talked with Tommy Lasorda and were inches from the players — especially during the game, when we sat about a foot behind the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen. Joe Torre was there, as were Don Mattingly, Todd's favorite out-maker Juan Pierre, Derek Lowe, etc. etc. And Albert Pujols and Nomar both hit homers. Oh, and they serve Dodger Dogs at Dodgertown, too. Yum.

So what could be bad? Well, while we were enjoying ourselves, I roasted. And now I'm all red around my neck and on my face and arms. Appropriately, it's the same color as the Cardinals' uniforms. But it was worth it. We had a great time.

Today we went to Fort Lauderdale Stadium to see the Orioles and the Mets play. That's really all we could do. It's not a terribly big place and aside from the game, there's not much to see. The Mets sent their B-squad, so the big deal for me was seeing Kevin Millar, who didn't disappoint. He's a fan fave, still quick with a joke, and he went 1-3. Same ole Millar.

Even though these weren't the best ballgames I've seen, it's still really cool to hear the crack of the bat again, and more importantly, to see the players doing what they (and I) enjoy so much. Spring is here, my friends. And in just a few weeks, summer will follow right behind. Bring it on.

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

This Is B.S.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Closer to Closing

My lawyer tells me the heavy lifting is over — in a manner of speaking, anyway. I've now signed the Purchase & Sale agreement and have applied for a mortgage. Now I basically just sit back and relax, and wait until the closing later this month, when I can officially be declared a home owner. Well, not exactly relax. There's that little matter of packing, of course. But something tells me throwing all my possessions in boxes, bags and crates will be a lot less stressful than deciding on a mortgage broker.

Woo hoo! Buying a condo is fun again.

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Monday, March 03, 2008

The More You Know

Big, Important Discovery of the Day:
The really good cover of Don Henley's "The Heart of the Matter" in the new Sex & the City trailer is not, as I suspected, by the movie's costar, Jennifer Hudson, but by India.Arie.
Moral of the Story:
A well-placed cover of a great song in the trailer of a movie I was iffy about will make said movie a must-see. And, iTunes just made another sale.

Second-biggest Important Discovery of the Day:
All six of the laundry machines in my building — not just the two new ones — now cost $1.75 per load.
Moral of the Story:
I have more than one reason to be happy I'm moving and will have laundry in my apartment.

Third-biggest Important Discovery of the Day:
Buying a condo can be very stressful, especially the day before you have to sign the Purchase & Sale, hand over a big check, and decide on a mortgage lender.
Moral of the Story:
A week ago I told Todd I found the whole condo-buying process fun. Todd responded by saying, "If you're having fun, then you're not doing it right." Wise words. But I choose to heed the even wiser words of that old adage, "Anything worth having is worth working for." And I know it's all going to be worth it a month from now.

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Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

There was nothing good on TV Sunday night, so I scanned through my old DVR recordings and decided to re-watch an episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip called "The Long Lead Story," one of three episodes of the show I saved (the others being the pilot and the instant-classic Xmas episode). I knew I liked this show when it was on (mostly, anyway — it could be hit and miss), but man, was this a great episode. That Aaron Sorkin, when he's on his game, there's no one better. Christine Lahti was a very good guest star, the dialogue crackled, Sting played the lute, the show within a show was actually kinda funny, and Nate Corddry spends a chunk of the episode in a lobster costume. So yeah, nearly a year and a half after this episode aired, it's still impressive — although I started to wonder: whatever happened to that long lead story Lahti's character was working on? If I'm correct, that plot thread was completely dropped and the story never appeared. Anyway, I miss Studio 60. Or at least I miss the good episodes of the show. Maybe I'll buy the complete series on DVD so I can re-watch the entire thing — and I can see if that story did ever run.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

To My Neighbors ...

Just a quick, public note to say how much I hate you. I hate you very very very very much. I hate you so much and I can't stand it anymore. I want your violin strings to snap. I want your bows to break. I want both of those things to cause you bodily harm. I wish nothing good for you. I'm more than pissed off.

Since September I have put up with your your violin playing, complaining about it only on this blog. It has gone on day and night, for hours on end. And I think I've been more than tolerant and flexible about letting you play without banging on any doors or walls, or reporting you to the building management company. I've even dealt with your smelly cooking, which has stunk up the hallway, and every so often would back up into my kitchen sink — largely due, I was told, to the fact that you did not understand how to use a disposal. I've never spoken to you, even though we live next door to each other. But that day is coming and you're not going to like what I have to say.

Do you have any conception of how loud you are, and of the fact that if I walk to the opposite end of the hallway I can still hear you playing? Do you know how annoying it is to get home from a long day of work and hear your screeching violin playing echoing through the hallways? Do you know how difficult it is to enjoy a TV show or to relax at night when you're playing? Do you have any common decency or respect for your neighbors? Do you? I guess not.

Last week when you began playing violin during the Oscars, I finally lost all my patience, went beyond my breaking point, and reported you to Hamilton. I know they called you and sent you a note telling you it's building policy that loud noise such as violin playing is not allowed. And yet, it's Sunday evening and after listening to both of you playing your violins this afternoon for two hours — solo, and then together, and then solo again — now you've started again. Ladies, that's enough. No, it's more than enough. I've had it. This is fu**ing ridiculous. In fact, I've complained to Hamilton again (they asked me not to complain directly to you). Actually, I emailed them this afternoon and I've done so again this evening. And yes, I know I'm moving in about a month, but I don't care. You must stop. Now. You must go to the practice studio at your school and practice there — just like my upstairs neighbor does. You must never cross me in the hallway. You must cease to exist in the building. And most definitely, you must stop knocking on the wall the very second I laugh at something on TV, as you have done twice this past week.

I'm generally a very nice person. But even I have my limits. If you keep playing your violin, I will keep reporting you to Hamilton (as they have asked me to do), and they will kick you out of the building. I hope that when they send you a second notice tomorrow morning that you will understand what they say and take it to heart. Otherwise, it will only get worse for you. Because if Hamilton's efforts don't produce results, then you'll have to deal with me. And I can assure you, when my passive aggressive nature turns less passive, you will not like it. I, however, will enjoy making my last weeks in the building as unpleasant for you as I possibly can.

So please, for your own sake, please (and yes, I'm still saying please) quit it with the violin playing. Immediately.

Thank you.

- Martin

ps: Obviously, this picture is not of you. Just in case anyone else was wondering.

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Raise this Roof

Hey there. Just a quick plug because an article I've written is now live on the Interweb for you to read and enjoy. It's about the new Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which for the first time features an all-African-American cast. I interviewed Debbie Allen (who you most likely know from the TV show Fame), and, well, you can see what she had to say right here.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Power to the People

As an idealistic but still naive college freshman, I signed up for a class called "The Sixties" my first semester at Brandeis. The professor, Jerry Cohen, captivated me with stories of protests and social upheaval, and explained how the youth movement tried to transform the nation. And, he told us about how Brandeis itself was a hotbed of activity, and how graduates like Abbie Hoffman were central to the activism of the decade. This course excited me like no other course would, and it started my college education on an inspiring foot.

More than 15 years later, the lessons of Jerry Cohen have come back to life with the movie Chicago 10, a documentary about the infamous trial of the Chicago Seven — folks like Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and Bobby Seale — who were put on trial for conspiracy, inciting to riot, and other charges related to violent protests that took place in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. (The title comes from a quote by Rubin, who said, "Anyone who calls us the Chicago Seven is a racist. Because you're discrediting Bobby Seale. You can call us the Chicago Eight, but really we're the Chicago Ten, because our two lawyers went down with us.") Director Brett Morgen mixes archival footage with computer-generated cartoons and a modern-day soundtrack to illustrate the trial and the convention week events. As historical documents go, it's pretty cool to actually see a lot of the older footage and see how folks protested the Vietnam War. It's also fun to see Hoffman in action; he comes across here as more of an agitator than a political activist, since he seems to delight more in getting a rise out of people than making actual change. The trial itself was a bit of a farce, since few of the defendants took the proceedings seriously. Judge Julius Hoffman (no relation to Abbie) was basically a crotchety old man who looked down on the defendants and made his disdain for them clear. And the fact that they all basically got off only emphasizes how silly the whole thing was.

Morgen uses the actual court transcripts as the script for the cartoon segments (with folks like Nick Nolte, Hank Azaria, and Mark Ruffalo providing the voices), and to be honest, these are some of the weaker segments in the film. The animation isn't terribly impressive, and the back and forth with Judge Hoffman gets sort of old. On the good side, songs like the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" are used to good effect to amp up the protest footage. I generally liked seeing these events I had in my head actually playing out in front of me. And it's nice that there's no present-day analysis from anyone, because what's happening basically speaks for itself. But that said, the film is missing some degree of insight, and some extra degree of engagement that prevented me from being completely impressed. So I'm giving Chicago 10 a B.

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