Thursday, July 31, 2008

Just Kidding

This morning on the way into work, I got a nice surprise: When we pulled into Packard’s Corner, the conductor came on the PA to tell us we were going express to BU Central. I say this was a surprise because the train was barely half-full, and usually we only go express if the car is full. Well anyway, so a couple people do the requisite freaking out and scurry off the train. As we pulled into the next stop a few feet up, at Babcock Street, the conductor again came on the speaker to announce, “Change. This car will actually be making all local stops.” I sighed, but then had to laugh because of the folks who had gotten off just a stop earlier for no reason. It was a classic case of schadenfreude.

Not that I think this was an intentional practical joke or anything, but it sure seemed that way. Maybe some T drivers do have a sense of humor.


Let the Eagle's Soar

One thing about having a blog — a public outlet for writing whatever I want to — is that you never know who's going to be reading what I write. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my bad experiences at the food places in Cleveland Circle. Well, and both picked it up, and soon all kinds of people were telling me how wrong I was. How could I judge pizza places without actually having the pizza, one person asked. Why didn't I just go to this place or that place, other people asked. And thankfully, some other people did agree with me.

Anyway, on Sunday, I got an email from Sean, the owner of Eagle's Deli. Maybe you saw what he sent me; he also posted his reply on my blog and over at Basically, Sean wanted me to give Eagle's a second chance, and to encourage me to do so, he offered me a $20 gift card. I'm no dummy, so Tuesday night on the way home from work I stopped in, picked up my card, and had a cheeseburger on the house. How was it? Well, it was there. I'll leave it at that, basically because it's partly my fault: the hour was late, the place was closing, and I just wanted something quick.

My point is, I appreciated the gesture. Sure, I can use this blog to vent and criticize and make fun, but I can also use it to give credit where credit is due. I may not love the food at Eagle's (or any of the local places in Cleveland Circle, for that matter), but good customer service is good customer service. I still have about $14 left on my card and I expect to use it to try other things. And hopefully I'll get there at a better hour, too, so I can actually have something substantial (like a King Kong or Godzilla burger). Not that I'm saying Sean can pay me off or anything so I'll write something positive about his place, but I do respect him for standing up for Eagle's — and for doing it so nicely — so I'm happy to prove him right. Maybe one of these times I'll actually find something I like there.

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Put a Fork in 'Em

I really hate to say it, but after Wednesday night's loss, it may be time to call the 2008 Red Sox season over. I know we're not out of contention yet (far from it), but if this week's games are any indication, the spark's just not there and we're sinking fast. But I'd be happy to be wrong. Maybe all this Manny hoo-hah is just a major distraction and all will be fine after the trade deadline has passed. Or maybe it won't, and we'll continue this downward slide. I'm not jumping ship just yet (after all, it's only July 31), but I'm starting to set my expectations really low.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Think You Should Abstain

If the thesis of Swing Vote is true, that one person can make a difference, then here is my question: why couldn't that person be an editor? Kevin Costner stars as Bud, a stupid, lazy, selfish drunk who (amazingly enough) has a whip-smart, politically-savvy and awfully precocious daughter, Molly. Bud couldn't care less about the presidential election (between, amazingly enough, Kelsey Grammer and Dennis Hopper), but through circumstances not even worth getting into here, he holds the final result of the election in his hands. Great. If only the guy was remotely likable and/or smart enough to realize what morons he was making the candidates into when they descend on his town and try to win him over. If only his daughter wasn't so angelic that she's beyond cliche. If only the screenplay didn't sound like it was written by a complete amateur. If only the aforementioned editor had decided to take a half hour off the running time of this movie — at least. If only I cared enough to list all the things wrong with this movie, and if only you cared enough to read about them. Frankly, my guess is you don't even care enough to see this movie, so I'm just going to give it a D and call it a day.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

9021-Oh No They Didn't

Alright, I'm just as excited as the next person for the new 90210 (alright, fine. Maybe I'm a little more excited than the next person.) And sure, I still watch the reruns of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 every weekend. But I can safely say that I will not be buying one of these limited edition 90210 iPod Nanos. No kidding. These are for real, folks. For $269, you too can have an 8GB iPod Nano with the vintage images of Brandon, Kelly, Dylan, and Brenda engraved on the back. (A 4GB version is also available.) The iPod is available in multiple colors, including, ahem, silver. Now, if you could actually buy episodes of 90210 on iTunes, maybe then I'd at least consider this. But until then, I'll take comfort in the fact that yes, I do still enjoy this show, but I'm not that dorky a fan that I'd actually go out and buy this thing.


More Growing Up Needed

The makers of the new documentary American Teen would have you believe that their movie is a modern-day Breakfast Club, what with its rip-off poster and references to the classic John Hughes film in its trailer. And sure enough, both films focus on the classic archetypes we know so well: the jock, the brain, the outcast, the princess, etc. But that's where the two films differ: one was an original look at teenage angst and the other is a snapshot of teens that screams "been there/done that."

In director Nanette Burstein's film, we meet five high school seniors in Warsaw, Indiana: Hannah, the misfit; Colin, the jock; Jake, the nerd; Megan, the bitch; and Mitch, the charmer. Their stories and personalities are ones we know all too well, having gone through high school and having watched countless reality shows over the years. The kids don't know life outside Warsaw, so their dramas are all amplified to an expected degree. We see the frustration Megan feels when her choice of prom theme is overruled and the heartbreak of Jake's repeated attempts to find love. There's Colin's struggle to lead his basketball team and earn a scholarship, and Mitch's pursuit of a girlfriend who may put his social standing at risk. And that's why you sort of have to laugh when Hannah's boyfriend dumps her shortly after she rhapsodizes about how she is in a relationship that will actually last beyond high school. The stories are just too predictable.

To Burstein's credit, though, while the students do all fall into their expected storylines, she manages to make you care about some of them. Hannah, in particular, stands out for her determined attempts to leave Warsaw and start a new life. Jake, too, is an endearing personality. But Megan and Colin don't seem to add much new to their respective "types," and all the usual cliches apply (if you don't count Colin's Elvis-impersonating father, that is). So in the end, American Teen is about as generic as its title implies. It's a pleasant two hours, but it's by no means a must-see. I'm giving it a B&ndash.


No Flipping

I think this clip speaks for itself.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Crazy Uncle Martin

So I guess it's official now: I have turned into that person who everyone hates, the one who can't stop taking pictures of his adorable niece and then sharing them with anyone who'll look. But really, just look at that picture I've posted above. Can you blame me? This kid is beyond cute.

I was in New York this weekend to hang out with Abby and the rest of the family. Now that she's 12 weeks old, Abby is showing signs of a personality, not just sleeping and eating, like she was doing the last time I visited. So of course, my camera was working overtime — much to Abby's parents' chagrin. One day, my niece will forgive me for being such a shutterbug. And Mitzi and Jason will be thankful to have so many great shots of their daughter. Until then, I'll keep looking at these pictures, showing them off to my friends and all you readers, and I'll be thinking of when my next chance to see Abby will be. Hopefully it won't be too long from now.

Click here to see my photo album from this weekend.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

No, Thank You?

I got my latest issue of Esquire in the mail yesterday, and it came with one of those wraps around it. Since it was about three weeks after the time when I usually get my issue, I figured this was a notice telling me to pay up or else my subscription will end. Nope. "Dear Valued Reader, I appreciate you being a reader of Esquire," the letter began. It continued, telling me that I will get guaranteed savings and unlimited delivery — and oh, I don't have to do anything right now to ensure that. This notice was just for my records.

Alright, fine. Thanks, Esquire. But if I'm such a valued reader, why couldn't you have sent me my issue on time and sent this non-urgent notice separately? The biggest value of being a subscriber — other than the convenience of having the issue delivered to my mailbox, and the lower price I pay for all the issues — is having the issue delivered, if not before, then at the same time the issue hits the newsstand. Esquire, please don't be like Rolling Stone, which usually comes about a week after the issue hits newsstands (and that magazine is bi-weekly!). Just get me my issue on time and I'll continue to be a happy subscriber. Thanks.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

He Is a Jelly Donut

Ladies and gentlemen of the world, we present to you ... the next president of the United States.


Monday, July 21, 2008

A Mix of Fergie and Jesus

The nice thing about my not having seen Talladega Nights, Semi-Pro, or Blades of Glory is that now, Step Brothers actually feels sorta fresh, and not like another lame retread of the same Will Ferrell jokes I've seen so many times before. Reteaming with his Talladega costar John C. Reilly, Ferrell plays Brennan, a 39-year-old stunted growth adult who still lives with his mother. Reilly plays Dale, a 40-year-old stunted growth adult who still lives with his father. When the two parents fall in love and get married, Brennan and Dale become reluctant step brothers who fight like cats and dogs. But they find common ground (velociraptors, John Stamos, sleepwalking, etc.) and all is well. And then it's not good. And then it is again. And the good news is that even if you've seen the trailer, you haven't seen all the best scenes. I mean, Step Brothers is not going to go down in the annals of great comedies. But it's nice to see Ferrell playing someone relatively real, as opposed to the cartoonish athlete characters he's played lately. More importantly, he and Reilly look like they're having an awful lot of fun here, and that helped me to have a great time watching it too. So I'm going to give Step Brothers a B.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Seriously Good

I'm happy to report that everything you've heard, all that hype, is true: The Dark Knight is awesome. More crime thriller than comic book movie, this film simply raises the game — for Batman movies, for movies adapted from comic books, for summer movies, for action movies, and maybe even for movies in general. And that's not even taking into account how cool it is to watch on an IMAX screen. The Dark Knight is just one great movie.

If you've been under a rock and need a quick plot summary: following soon after Batman Begins left off, Batman's now established his place in Gotham City as a crime-fighting vigilante, and his latest nemesis is the Joker (Heath Ledger, so so twisted and good), a guy not so much after money or power or anything in particular, as much as he's someone who just gets off on chaos. Add to the mix an aggressive new district attorney named Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) who is out to stop the mob's influence on the city, and also happens to be the boyfriend of Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal, thankfully replacing Katie Holmes), the childhood friend and eternal flame of Batman alter-ego Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale).

Watching The Dark Knight, it's almost as if director (and co-writer) Christopher Nolan has thrown everything he's got at the screen, and it all just works. Ledger gives a mind-blowing performance that is so different from Jack Nicholson's. Bale establishes himself as perhaps the best Batman of all. All the supporting actors — Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, etc. — get their chance to shine. The story, which includes elements of The Killing Joke (one of my favorite comic book issues ever), is totally engaging. The camerawork is great. The gadgets and gizmos are cool. The score (by both Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard) is epic. And on an IMAX screen, everything is amped up — the picture gets bigger, the sound gets louder, the movie just gets better. (Certain scenes were filmed specifically for IMAX, and those fill the entire screen. The rest is standard widescreen. Point is, when the screen suddenly fills up, you know something exciting is about to happen.)

Nolan has created a world that is very real — not cartoony or extreme like the Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman films were, or like most comic book moves are. I dare say this is even more real than Iron Man was. And that only serves to ratchet up the intensity and make things more believable. The film was clearly shot in Chicago — a point I make not to say that it's distracting, but to emphasize the real locations — and the way the Bat Pod and other vehicles zoom down streets, in and out of traffic, you'd think you were watching The French Connection or some other classic crime thriller. Sure, the Joker is a guy with a permanent smile on his face who wears clown makeup (as opposed to Nicholson/Burton's Joker, whose skin was discolored), but he exists within the world of the film, not above it, and that's why a scene like the opening bank robbery one is able to play so well and be so suspenseful. And of course, it's also largely due to Nolan's taking the action so seriously and not winking as he's filming.

There may be movies I've loved more, but The Dark Knight is just really well-made and very impressive to watch. And there's so much more to praise. The question when the lights come up almost becomes, what's next? Because you know there's going to be a third film in the series. I'm not sure Nolan can top this, but I'd sure like to see him do it. In the meantime, I cant wait to see this one again. I'm giving The Dark Knight an A.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hooray for Bar Stools!

No one ever tells you how difficult it is to decorate an apartment, especially when you're not the savviest of designers. But today I can cross one to-do off the decorating search list: I got bar stools! (Actually, I ordered them about a month ago, but I picked them up today.) It only took me three months to find the right pair (and by the way, they look better in person than they do in that photo). They're nice: comfortable to sit in, they swivel, and they're made of microfiber, so they're easy to clean. And, now I have the option of sitting at my kitchen table or sitting at the counter when I eat. And when I use my computer, now I don't have to stand. Oh, happy day. Thank you, Chair Fair. Now if I could just find some nice things to put on the walls (other than Amanda Bynes posters, thank you) ... then my new place wouldn't seem so "new" anymore. But hey, what's the rush? I'll find stuff I like all in due time.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Who You Callin' Chicken?

I like an awful lot of things about my new apartment, but if I had to pick one thing I definitely do not like, it's my local food options. I think I've now tried every pizza and sandwich shop in Cleveland Circle — Pino's, Presto, Eagle's Deli, Roggies, etc. — and I've basically had the same thing at every one of them: a chicken cutlet sub. (Often it's parmigiana.) I have to say, not a one of them has left me feeling satisfied. I mean, how hard is it to put a couple pieces of chicken on a toasted roll, and add mayo and lettuce. It's simple, right? Well, Thursday night I tried Eagle's Deli for the first time, and that may have been the worst one of all. I paid about $7.50 (!!) for a single piece of bad fried formerly-frozen chicken on a bulkie roll (because they were out of sub rolls — and Snapples and a whole lot of other stuff) and could barely finish it. Hours later, I was feeling ill. The other places have been equally disappointing. Some have the chicken right there in a warmer ready to go, and while I appreciate the speed, I'd prefer it if my sandwich was fresh, and not made with meat that's been sitting around for God knows how long. I don't mind waiting for good food.

Either the B.C. kids have really low standards for good food, or these places just aren't even trying. How I long for the days when I could get off the T on my way home and eat at T. Anthony's, a real pizza place, and a real good one at that. (It's located at the corner of Comm Ave. and Babcock St.) In addition to great pizza, those guys make a perfect chicken cutlet sub, and an even better parmigiana one. And, best of all, their food is always fresh or made with higher-quality ingredients. College Sub, when it's open, makes a passable sandwich that I'll tolerate. But if the best I can do is "passable," then I've got real problems. Or, I've just gotta make my own meals all the time.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Remember When ...

It's funny how in all the pomp and pagentry that preceded the All-Star Game tonight, and all the recalling of memorable moments that took place at Yankee Stadium, there was no mention of the Yankees choking in 2004. I'm sure that was just an oversight. And I'm sure when MLB was planning this most exciting occasion and recalling all the fond memories that fans have of this hallowed ballpark, they simply forgot about Curt Schilling's triumphant Game Six performance during the 2004 ALCS with the bloody sock, or how A-Rod embarrassed himself when he swatted the ball away when Bronson Arroyo went to tag him out. There wasn't even a mention of Johnny Damon's big grand slam in Game 7 of that series — maybe because he was playing for the Red Sox back then. Those may not be fond memories for Yankee fans, but when the House that Ruth Built is torn down (and we can finally stop hearing about what a great place this is/was), they will be the cherished memories I'll remember most.


Not So High

I wish I was more excited about The Wackness. This movie, about a New York teen who sells marijuana as a summer job and falls in love with his shrink's stepdaughter, looked pretty cool, what with its soundtrack of 1990s hip-hop and a seemingly amusing hangdog performance by Josh Peck. Alas, the movie doesn't live up to my own self-generated hype and it ends up being less than dope. Yes, as you may have heard, Ben Kingsley and Mary-Kate Olsen make out in one scene, but that's mostly just a tease; the scene isn't even necessary, and it just further emphasizes how little credibility Kingsley's character has. There are a few good lines and a couple decent laughs, and Peck's performance does have its moments, but overall, I got no buzz from The Wackness, and that's why I'm giving it a C-.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Don't Take a Chance on This

So ... this is what it looks like when Meryl Streep is slumming, eh? In the film adaptation of Mamma Mia!, the musical about a girl (Amanda Seyfried) who invites three men to her wedding in the hopes of finding out which one is her father (a show I've never seen, by the way, and have consciously avoided), Streep plays the girl's mother, who now runs a hotel on a remote Greek island. Oh, and the whole thing is set to the music of ABBA.

If you've read this far, congratulations. That's farther than I got seeing the movie. It's pretty clear from the first five minutes that Mamma Mia! is going to be pretty awful, and by the title card, it had lost me completely. And it's not because I hate musicals; on the contrary. In fact, Hairspray was one of my favorite movies of 2007. And it's not because I can't deal with a female-centric movie — hell, even Sex and the City was better than this. It's not even because I hate the music of ABBA. It's that the material — the script and the story — is so lame that it induces groans, and not even a cast including Streep and Pierce Brosnan can save it.

Young woman seeks to learn the identity of her father, so she invites all three possibilities to her wedding and doesn't tell her mother first. It's a classic sitcommy set-up. Throw in said wacky mother, her two hi-larious best friends — oh, and the fact that all three used to be in a singing group — and you have a recipe for disaster. Plus, have it so that the three men "meet cute" and maybe have one turn out to be gay. And did I mention the film is set in Greece? So of course there's also a Greek chorus. Oh, but it gets worse: Streep and Brosnan can't sing (which doesn't stop them from trying), the film is shot in a totally amateurish way, and there are even some scenes where you can easily tell the actors are standing in front of a green screen. At least the ABBA songs feel slightly natural, in that they're not forced into the story as uncomfortably as the Beatles songs were in Across the Universe. Still, by the time Streep launches into "The Winner Takes It All," you've heard a few songs too many. And "Dancing Queen" may make you gag and want to walk right out (bummer — it comes about a third of the way in). For a better ABBA tribute movie, may I suggest Muriel's Wedding?

If there's one thing worth mentioning in a positive way, it's Seyfried (Alpha Dog), who is a real find here. She's got a radiant sweetness, decent mother-daughter chemistry with Streep, and best of all, she can actually sing. If only she was in a better movie. The one she is in, Mamma Mia!, gets a D from me.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

X Marks the Spot

I've always been kind of fascinated by reading about myself. Or rather, articles and books that discuss my generation or groups I'm a part of. So that's why I chose Jeff Gordinier's X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything from Sucking as my latest book to read. I've now finished it (hooray!) and wanted to weigh in.

In the book, Gordinier posits that Generation X, the generation that's often perceived as misunderstood, hard to categorize, and largely ignored, has the unfortunate luck of being sandwiched between the self-centered Baby Boomers and the self-centered Millennials. And because it's often pigeon-holed as being forgotten, the accomplishments of Gen X are often overlooked. To wit: members of Gen X created YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, and Craigslist. Zines, a Gen X creation, were the progenitor of blogs. Netscape changed the face of Web browsing. Jon Stewart, Barack Obama, Kurt Cobain, and Dave Eggers are all members of Gen X. In essence, we, the members of Generation X, have a lot to be proud of.

So why are we always overlooked? Gordinier's major thesis is that it's because Boomers and Millenials keep hogging the spotlight, either by comparing their accomplishments to ours (Boomers) or by adopting and assuming ownership of our creations (Millenials). "The boomers never came up with anything that approaches the hugeness of Google," he writes. "John Lennon got bitch-slapped for saying the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, but Google ... gives God a run for His money." Gordinier, also an editor-at-large at Details magazine, adds that we are a generation that doesn't want or crave attention, and we're happy to make change happen quietly, almost under the radar, if it brings us personal satisfaction. Getting attention isn't the goal, like it is for so many Millenials (Paris Hilton takes a pretty big — albeit expected — hit for that), and that only serves to make our accomplishments that much more significant. And that's also probably why you may not have heard of the Poetry Bus, for example, which gets almost as much space in the book as Nirvana and Lauryn Hill.

Amid the pop culture and political references and recaps of case studies we've heard before, Gordinier makes a moderately effective call to action, and says we're nearing the time when Gen X can reclaim its rightful place in the world. "The Bush crowd will be gone soon, and then we can pounce," he writes.

I'm not sure the book is as compelling as I'd hoped it'd be, but it's a pretty easy read and it oftentimes reaffirms the belief that Generation X is not a bunch of slackers. I wish the book was more rallying cry or manifesto like it is at the very end, but there's something to be said for learning from others' example. Sure, I may not have changed the world like some people have, but that doesn't mean I can't be proud to be associated (in the most minimal of connections) with the people Gordinier includes. And hey, like the author encourages, maybe my time is coming. Stay tuned.

(And if you want to hear more about this book, here's a video of Gordinier explaining what it's all about.)

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

News to Him

On my way into work today, I stopped at Bruegger’s for breakfast. “Cinnamon raisin bagel with smoked salmon spread, please,” I ordered. So the guy gets a bagel, slices it, and as he’s spreading the cream cheese, he looks up and says to me, “You know, there’s another word for this.” Intrigued, I asked what that was. “Lox,” he tells me. Now, I hate to mock the guy or anything, because he was being friendly and sharing something he thought I might not know, but of all things, that was kind of an amusing thing to tell me — especially in a bagel place — given that, well, I’m Jewish (which he couldn’t have known) and bagels and lox are something I eat often. In fact, usually when I want to order lox, I have to ask for smoked salmon simply because places like Bruegger’s and Finagle a Bagel don’t know from lox. But amusement aside, I figured I should return the favor. “Actually,” I said to the guy, “it’s also known as nova.” The guy looked at me, smiled, and said, “That’s a new one for me.” So maybe I did a service today, and I helped to educate a Bruegger's employee. Who knows? Maybe one day soon I'll even be able to stop in and order a bagel with lox spread.

[And to my readers who know better, yes, I know lox and nova are not exactly the same, nor is smoked salmon. That’s a detail that’s not really worth getting into at Bruegger’s.]

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Ain't That America

I sure hope I'm not the only one who still gets chills every year when the Boston Pops hits the final verse of "Stars and Stripes Forever" and the flag unfurls from the top of the Hatch Shell and the confetti shoots out from the machines on the sides of the Esplanade. It's a fantastic, only-in-Boston moment, five of my favorite minutes of the year, and it never ceases to excite me year after year after year. My only real regret about the Pops show this year (and every year) is that the national audience doesn't get to see and hear more of it. I'd love for CBS to start their broadcast at 9:30 instead of 10, so more folks can enjoy the great music — and not just the special guest and the lame, cheesy Patriotic Sing-Along. I also wish there were fewer commercial breaks between the songs, but hey, musicians that good deserve their breaks.

And those fireworks? Awesome, as always. Colors bright enough to light up the entire sky. Booms loud enough to be heard out by B.C. "Nessun Dorma" was beautiful. "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" was predictable but fun. And that finale? Wow. I'm such a sucker for fireworks, and the Boston ones do it for me each and every year.

Combine it with a fun BBQ at Farry and Barrah's, and another big Red Sox win over the Yankees, and the only thing I have to say is: What a great day to be in Boston. What a great day to be an American. Happy July Fourth!

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Waah Waah Waah

A small favor to ask of all the mothers, helpers, and others who may be wheeling around babies and other young’uns: If your child is crying — and not just crying but wailing — and you’re about to get on a crowded T during rush hour, please think twice. Don’t be like the woman who wheeled a crying baby onto the B line this morning and did nothing to quiet the kid down as we rode all the way down Comm Ave. Please, out of common courtesy to your fellow passengers, many of whom are still half-asleep or are trying to enjoy some last “quiet” time before they get to the office, have the decency to tend to your child — or better yet, wait until he/she has quieted down and then get on the train. Thanks.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I've been working on an article about soccer — sorry, I mean football — in Milan, and happened upon this clip of Tiziano Crudeli, who is like Milan's version of Jerry Remy. I know it's old news when an announcer goes nuts for a goal, but there's something about Crudeli that just cracks me up. He actually looks a little bit like Remy, so I was trying to picture RemDawg going this bezerk when Manny or Papi or someone hits a homerun. Can you just imagine? Watch this clip and tell me you can see it too. I particularly love the guy who appears at the 49-second mark to the left who is pretty much oblivious to the mayhem right next to him. Good stuff. And if you don't know RemDawg, I've got a classic clip of him below the Crudeli one. Enjoy.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

No One

Sometime in June 2005, I was asked at the Virgin Megastore on Newbury Street (before it was a lame Best Buy) if I wanted to buy a $1 wristband to support One, the organization founded by Bono to combat world hunger, poverty, and other global issues. I'm on record as saying I don't support hunger, so I said yes, and almost instantly, I put the wristband on my wrist. Over the years, people would ask me what the white wristband meant, and I would often use the same line: it's my way of identifying myself as a single person. That, or I'd say a census taker came by, saw I was single, and told me to wear the wristband. I enjoyed extending the story to explain that if I ever saw someone on the street wearing one of these wristbands, I'd know she was available and a potential mate. I guess it's safe to say that I supported the cause of ending my single status more than that of ending world hunger. And to that end, I always wore the wristband. Always. Annoyingly and unattractively so, it never came off. (Except for my sister's wedding, when she asked me to remove it. Hey, you don't mess with a bride.)

Well, this past weekend I finally took the wristband off. For good. No, it's not because I've started dating someone. And amazingly enough, its not because I realized the wristband was probably counter-productive to getting women to go out with me (though I suppose there may be something to that). It's just that, um, er, well, ah, I finally decided that the wristband's kinda lame. And I think everyone agrees because I never see anyone wearing any kind of wristband. Not white ones, not red ones — not even the yellow ones that were so ubiquitous a year or two ago. In fact, I don't think I ever saw another person wearing a white wristband in the entire three-year period I had one on.

But passing fad aside, what happened? Those yellow Livestrong bracelets were everywhere. Now they're nowhere. I'll admit, my wristband came off partly because it was just not cool anymore to wear it. But that's me and I'm lame like that. Where are all the other people who are less impressionable than me? What happened to their bracelets?

Hello, It's Me Again

Yup, that's me again on They've posted a link to my post last night about the T. If you've come to my site today from, welcome. I hope you'll stay a while and come back often.

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Not So Super

I suppose the good news is that there's hope for the rest of us. That's because the bad news is Will Smith is not perfect. His latest movie, Hancock, is one of the bigger disappointments of the season. The concept's great: Smith stars as sort of an anti-superhero hero. While the bad guys are shooting 'em up, Hancock is passed out drunk on a bus station bench. When he does save the day, he causes more damage and destruction. People view him not as a good guy but as an asshole. (Sorry, Dad. That's what they call him in the movie.) So when Hancock inadvertently saves actual good guy and unsuccessful PR agent Ray (Jason Bateman), the hero becomes the unwitting participant in a makeover campaign to improve his public image.

I don't know. Something about that concept and the trailer — particularly the shot of Smith throwing a beached whale back into the ocean ... and right onto a sailboat — made me excited for Hancock. But for a change, a Will Smith movie kinda sucks. That's partly because Smith isn't playing a very likable character here. Even when he's "rehabilitated," you can't really root for him like you can in a movie like I Am Legend or The Pursuit of Happyness. Hancock's just not having any fun, and his contempt for his own powers, his mean-spiritedness, his utter unwillingness to shape up, doesn't really engage the audience.

More importantly, in the hands of director Peter Berg (The Kingdom), Hancock is just a loud, dumb, messy action flick, with violence for violence's sake, a dark tone, a hip-hop soundtrack, and a plot twist involving Charlize Theron that's telegraphed pretty obviously. Berg (with the help of various writers over the years) even throws away the goodwill that comes when Hancock turns from zero to hero by pummeling the audience with so much gunplay and volume. You wish we'd been able to see more of Hancock doing things that earn him the public's love. That might have made for some good, endearing comedy. You also wish you could learn why Hancock is so obsessed with eagles. (What, is he a B.C. alum or something?) Alas, with a 92-minute running time, cuts have to be made. Oh, and the ending is one of the lamest I've ever seen. It'll make you cringe and wonder where Smith's credibility went. That's right: not even Will Smith can save this movie. Hancock only earns a C from me.