Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Something Borrowed, Something Blew
Monday, April 28, 2008
Just What I Need: More Junk
Don't get me wrong: I like getting mail. I may subscribe to a lot of magazines, but other than that, my mail is generally just bills. Still, I assumed that one of the benefits of moving to a brand new place (not just for me, but completely brand new) was that I wouldn't be on any pre-existing mailing lists and thus, I'd be safe from the catalogs and other direct-mail stuff I got at my old place. No dice. I suppose when I was signing all those forms at the closing, one of them must have read "Please add me to all the mailing lists that exist for residents of Newton." That'll teach me to read what I sign.
It's nice that people want to give me stuff, even if it is coupons and discounts for things I don't really need. But if these companies really wanted to earn a new customer, they'd give me something I actually want, like a high definition TV. Oh, how I wish that would fit in my mailbox. Oh well.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Go, Speed Racers, Go!
And the good news is that it was totally worth it, of course. Watching at B.C., at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill, was a lot of fun, what with all the loud and rowdy college kids all around. It was fun to see the wheelchair racers come zipping down the street, but when the masses of runners started to turn the corner and come down the hill, ahem, en masse, it was like a wildebeest stampede (I kept picturing the scene in The Lion King). The area is totally wide open, so there are plenty of good places to stand and watch — and take pictures. When I felt like going inside for lunch, I could still watch all the action through the window. And best of all, I knew two people running, and amazingly, I was able to pick both of them out of the herd (only one of them heard me screaming her name, though). The only bad thing? Because it's Passover, I couldn't get any fried dough or ice cream or any other food. Oh well.
Anyway, it's the marathon; you know what it's all about. If you want to see more pictures I took today, just click here. One warning, though: they're mostly pictures of random runners, but I did try to also capture some of the "flavor" of the day.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Back to Books
Thursday, April 17, 2008
I'm Just Saying ...
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
B Not So Bad
The commute was my biggest concern about buying a condo so far out of the city, but so far, it's a non-issue for me. So, at least for now, you won't hear me complaining about the T. Nice.
Labels: the T
Baby Mama is the story of Kate (Fey), a successful single woman who has decided that after years of putting her career first, she now wants a baby. Learning that she is unable to conceive, Kate hires Angie (Poehler), a working-class woman of questionable morals, to be her surrogate. This seems like a setup that could let Fey make fun of celebrity adoptions and career women and other timely subjects. If she had written the script, maybe she would have. But instead, writer/director Michael McCullers aims his arrows at subjects like Jamba Juice and Whole Foods–like stores, and they don't really stick. Fey and Poehler have real chemistry and are generally enjoyable to watch — more so than Steve Martin, who looks embarrassed in an unbilled role as Kate's boss — but they almost look pained to be put in such lame situations. Hopefully these two will get the chance to star in a Fey-written comedy in the future. (That is, another Fey-written comedy — both appeared in Mean Girls.) For now, their Baby Mama only rates a B– from me.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Not So Smart
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do
Thankfully, liking this movie is much easier. Written by Segel, it includes many quotable lines and doesn't fall for the typical romantic comedy cliches. Yes, Peter meets an equally engaging young woman (That 70s Show's Mila Kunis) and sure, Sarah's new boyfriend is an idiot, but things don't always go as expected with this foursome. Delivering the dialogue is this very appealing cast, led by unexpected leading man Segel. As with Knocked Up, the leads here are a pretty unlikely couple, but you can believe why they'd actually be together. Knocked Up writer/director Judd Apatow produced this film, and things are rounded out by amusing performances by a supporting cast that includes his regulars Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, and Paul Rudd. The laughs here aren't as big as Knocked Up or Superbad, but FSM is definitely worth seeing. I'm giving it a strong B.
I'm Loving This "Angels" Instead
Monday, April 07, 2008
In Fact, It's a Gas
Director Martin Scorsese is a huge Stones fan; he uses a song by the band in most every movie he makes. In fact, in recent interviews, Mick Jagger has joked that Shine a Light may be the only Scorsese film that does not include "Gimme Shelter" in its soundtrack. Point is, this is a guy who knows his subject.
Shine a Light begins with a 10-minute black-and-white segment about how this master director intends to make his film. The band (specifically Jagger) is a bit hesitant about the cameras getting in the way and the fact that the moviemaking is coming before the musicplaying. For his part, Scorsese does some exaggerated fretting about a lack of set list, and demonstrates how he's over-preparing for the shows.
Jagger had reason to be concerned — when the concert starts and the picture goes not just from black-and-white to color but from big to huge, the action is being captured by 16 or 17 cameras. But Scorsese is just as much a pro as the Stones, and he's hired a team of cinematographers that includes Emmanuel Lubezki (Children of Men), John Toll (Gone Baby Gone), and Albert Maysles, who directed the classic 1970 Stones documentary Gimme Shelter, to work those cameras. Let's just say that although these guys have every possible inch of these shows covered, it doesn't affect the Stones one bit. They're as good as ever, and they appear to be having a great time making the film.
In between great songs like "She Was Hot," "Just My Imagination," and the Keith Richards solo "You Got the Silver," Scorsese inserts vintage clips of interviews Jagger, Richards, Ron Wood, and Charlie Watts have given over the years, including one in which Jagger, after just two years of touring, says the band probably will only be around for another year. The show itself is enhanced by guest stars Jack White, Buddy Guy, and Christina Aguilera. And it all adds up to two hours of hard-rocking, exciting showmanship both behind and in front of the camera.
Shine a Light is playing on both IMAX and regular screens, but for the best experience, this film must be seen on an IMAX screen. If you're a Stones fan, it's essential viewing. If you're not, this film will show you why some bands have long careers and others just fade away. Simply, the Stones are pros; even when playing songs like "Start Me Up," they give it their all. Scorsese has made a fantastic tribute to one of his favorite bands, and the affection he feels can't help but transfer to the viewer. I'm giving Shine a Light an A–.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Honey, I'm Home!
I can be quite stubborn at times (no kidding), and this was one of those times. I was not going to let the couch end up in basement storage. I did not want to have to buy a new one. So I kept looking at it and thinking and finally came up with a solution for how it was going to get inside. I said to the men, "Turn it upside down so the taller part is on the opposite side, lift it over the staircase, then tilt it down and into the door." (Vinny — yes, one of my movers' names was Vinny — called it "planing.") It seemed so simple to me. The men were skeptical and explained the math to me, that the width of the door and the width of the couch wouldn't allow it in, etc. They were also worried that the couch could get scratched or dirty in the process. I said I'd rather have a slightly stained couch in my apartment than a clean one in storage. So for my piece of mind, and to show that they did, in fact, try everything, they said they would try my idea.
And you know what? It worked! In fact, it worked so well and so smoothly that the guys were making jokes that they should hire me. Sure, the couch did get a little stained, but that was on a part of it that's obscured by pillows, and they gave me $100 off the move costs so I could hire a cleaner to deal with it. Awesome! Now, before I make too big of a deal about this, I don't want to make the movers look too bad. They were good guys, and they did try a few times to get the couch in, and this was a company I had used twice before and probably would use again. In truth, I just got lucky. (To put a more sentimental spin on it, the rest of the day I kept telling myself that my plan worked because of Bubby, who was clearly with me in spirit, making sure everything went well.) Regardless, I can't remember the last time I was that happy or that proud of myself.
So now I'm all moved in. Not all unpacked, but what's the rush? After all, I have 30 years to pay off the mortgage, so I'll be here for a while. I've turned in my keys to my old landlord, and I even gave the old apartment a once-over to get rid of all the dust bunnies I had left behind. As it turns out, having two storage areas in the basement was a great idea; I can't believe that all the stuff I've, um, stuffed in there used to be in my apartment. And, get this: a salesperson at Jordan's today suggested an easy way to get the paint stains off the couch — and it worked! Oh, and as if things couldn't get any sweeter, Mitzi and Jason sent me a platter of cookies from Cookies by Design (yum) that will surely keep me stuffed for the next week or more.
Which, I guess, brings me to the end of my moving saga, and means I can now say that I am a Newton resident. I can start orienting myself to my new neighborhood, I can prepare myself for endless commutes on the B line, and I can join the opposition to the $197.5-million school construction project that will surely increase my taxes. It's all good. I know a few of my readers have enjoyed reading about my condo-buying process, and I hate to disappoint, so allow me to make this announcement here and now: tomorrow I begin the selling process on this place and will seek to buy a new condo, just so I can keep having stuff to write about. Just kidding. But if you'd like to see more pictures of my move, just click here. While you do that, I'm going to go unpack some more boxes. Till next post ...
Cincinnati Music Factory
Friday, April 04, 2008
Movin' On Out
After more than six years in one place, it'll be a real adjustment to have my life centered elsewhere, but I'll be fine (of course). There's a lot I'll miss about this building (the location, mostly), but in the end, I'm very happy to be moving on (thank you, violin players and noisy, insensitive neighbors and price-gouging management company). In fact, it gives me immense pleasure to know that I'll be going out with a bang — my movers are scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Now, you know how I feel about noise on Saturday mornings when I'm trying to sleep late. But after all these months of tolerating the violins and the flutes and the pianos and the loud talking and smoking outside my window and the late-night phone calls next door and the smelly cooking and all the shoes left in the hallway and the rude neighbors who don't hold the door open when you're right behind them and the heavy-footed upstairs neighbors and the folks who park their minivan next to me and don't know how to open doors without hitting my car and the side doors being propped open, etc. etc. etc., it only seems right that I disturb my neighbors for a change. So, goodbye 110. I'll miss you. (But not too much.)
A Parting Gift
The Right Stuff? Not Really.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Past Meets Present
There's lots to like about my condo, but I have to say, one of my favorite things about it is the boiler room. Yes, you read that right. You see, I bought a place in an older building that's been rehabbed, refurbished, redone, etc. All the amenities are modern and new and clean. And yet, in the boiler room there's a pretty cool bit of history on one wall, where all kinds of former residents wrote their names. Some of them dated their signature, and the years go as far back as the 1930s and '40s. The most recent date I saw was 1987. And being a sucker for nostalgia and stuff like this, I just find the signatures give the building a lot of random, hidden, unexpected charm. It's really impressive that over the years, and despite extensive renovation, these names have remained on the wall. Perhaps it's because I'm not alone in appreciating this aspect of the building. One day I'll have to sign my own name on one of the bricks. For now, though, I am eager to share in the history of this place I'll soon call my home.
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
What About Bob?
Touchdown, But No Extra Point
From the first frames, when Clooney uses the classic Universal Studios logo rather than the current one, you know you're in a throwback kind of movie. The first 15 minutes have the breezy charm of a 1920s screwball comedy. There's a great opening score, and the quick pace effectively establishes the tone. We're introduced to our major players: Carter Rutherford (John Krasinski, from The Office), the war-hero-turned-college-football-star; Dodge Connolly (Clooney), the aging football hero who doesn't play by the rules; and Lexie Littleton (Renée Zellweger), a newspaper reporter assigned to get the real story on Carter.
In 1925, pro football was still in its infancy. Players were men who refused to grow up, and played for per-game salaries that were paid when the game was over. But its no-rules disorganization put the league in jeopardy. Dodge sees in Carter the chance to build attention and respect for his sport, so he entices him to go pro. Lexie tags along to get her story, and (surprise surprise) ends up getting caught in the middle of the two guys, both of whom fall for her. Will Lexie get her story? Will Dodge get the girl? What do you think?
I wish I could say Leatherheads was entirely as good as its opening minutes promise, but it's not. The film bounces back and forth in tone between screwball comedy and dramedy, a shift that hinders the overall pace. I wish this were more similar to the Coen brothers' Intolerable Cruelty, one of my all-time favorite Clooney films. That said, Leatherheads is an easygoing, charming flick with lots to like. Clooney demonstrates his movie star appeal, and his talent as a director is so good that even Zellweger is an attractive and not annoying presence. Krasinski doesn't have the big-screen, all-American look that his character requires (Clooney should have cast someone a little more WASPy and a little less goofy), but he's enjoyable too.
There's no real competition between Dodge and Carter, so there's not much of a love triangle. Dodge doesn't even seem to be all that invested in outing Carter as a fraud because he doesn't see him as a threat, and more importantly, he's more interested in just playing football (and getting the girl). And since there's no real competition there, you know there's gotta be a big game at the end where the two men will end up playing against each other. But, there's some fun detail in the way the games are staged, and some decent laughs to be had. And the leads are so likable here that they help to overcome many of the film's weaknesses.
So, while Leatherheads is far from an instant classic sports movie, it's a pleasant two hours and I'd recommend it. I'm giving the film a B.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Bait and Switch
(And yes, despite the date, this appears to be a very real story, unfortunately.)