Saturday, January 31, 2009

"When I Drive on Campus, I See Money"

A videographer for visited the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis today and compiled a video that shows a) an increased number of visitors, b) sadness/anger/frustration on the part of those visitors regarding the closing of the museum and the possible sale of its collection, and c) protest signs hung in the entryway. Thought I'd share a link so you can watch if you're interested.

In related news, the campus community held a large protest of its own on Thursday. I know, I know. And yes, I can count myself as one of those countless students of the past who took the museum for granted and is now supporting it publicly like it means so much to me. But it's not about the museum itself, per se, as much as it is the school's decision that I'm against, and the effects the close and sale will have on Brandeis' identity and cultural impact. The Rose is symbolic of, and part of, the singularity and greatness of Brandeis University, and I don't want to see the museum be sacrificed in such tough times. Not many other universities can boast that they have a world-class museum of the Rose's caliber on their campus, and I hope Brandeis will reverse course so it can continue to count the Rose as one of its most noteworthy and appealing attributes.

Tube Tops

Generally, I try to stay inside when it's cold out. I'm not a skiier and I can't get too excited about many winter activities. But Saturday, I jumped at the chance to go tubing — even if it meant an hour-long trek up to Amesbury. I layered up, putting on jeans and sweatpants; a tshirt, hooded sweatshirt and a hooded winter coat; and of course, gloves and a scarf — not because I needed protection from getting banged up or anything, but because it was damned cold out! But it was worth it.

The Amesbury Sports Park charges just $20 for three hours of tubing, and though we only stayed just over two hours, we still went up and down seven times — more than enough. Some hills were thinner and faster than others (I was told they've clocked a speed of just under 60 mph on the fastest ones), but no matter if we went tandem, on a wider path or a thinner one, if we went feet first or lying on our stomach, if we faced front the whole way or if we were spinning around, it was a great time. None of us went so fast that we couldn't break and ended up on Route 495, so that's good. None of us got hurt. And, truth be told, it wasn't even that cold; the layered-up thing worked quite well. Would I run back to Amesbury to do this again? No. But now that I've done it, I can spend the rest of the winter nestled safely and warmly on my couch (under my Slanket, of course).


Friday, January 30, 2009

Ready for BRUUUUUUUUCE !!!

"We want it to be a 12-minute party," Bruce Springsteen said during a press conference on Thursday to talk up his performance this Sunday during the Super Bowl halftime show. "The idea of the show is, you are going to the Meadowlands, you get lost on the way. You are watching your clock, 'Damn, the show is starting right now.' You stop at a bar to get some directions, and the bar gets held up while you are there. So that takes another 45 minutes to get out of there. You come back and you miss your exit on the turnpike, and you are driving to get back around. And so you make it into the stadium 2 hours and 48 minutes into the show — that's what you are going to see: the last 12 minutes."

And to think ... I was already looking forward to Bruce before. Now I'm even more excited.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's Here!

A year ago, two guys in my office made a big deal about something they had found called a Slanket, which was apparently a blanket with sleeves. And when one of them had his Slanket shipped directly to the office, and he wore it, we gave him a hard time for the way it looked on him. Well, fast forward a few months and suddenly that Slanket didn't seem like such a bad idea after all. So, I asked for one for Hanukkah and I'm excited to tell y'all that it finally arrived today (yes, a bit belatedly).

I saw the box waiting for me at my door when I got home from work and as soon as I brought it inside, I tore it open, took a picture to show you (of course), and put on the Slanket to see how well it fit. Let's just say I won't be cooking or eating dinner while wearing it, but tonight, when I'm watching American Idol and Lost, I'll be mighty comfortable and warm laying on my couch, wrapped up tight in my Slanket. Wow, is this thing comfy and cozy — and big!

Now, maybe you're wondering, I've heard all about the Snuggie. How does the Slanket compare? Well, screw the Snuggie. That cheap ripoff isn't even worth writing about. But since you're asking ... The Slanket was created by Gary Clegg in 1998 when he was a freshman in college. The Snuggie was "created" by the Allstar Marketing Group more recently to try and siphon away Clegg's very successful business. Whereas the Snuggie only comes in three colors, the Slanket comes in 11 (I got it in beige, but I also considered castlerock). Whereas all the proceeds from the Snuggie go to some greedy folks (the aforementioned Allstar Marketing Group), Clegg donates a portion of the proceeds from every sale to one of three worthy causes (mine went to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation). The Slanket is longer (60 inches by 95 inches versus 54 inches by 71 inches), thicker, and heavier than the Snuggie. It's just a higher-quality product (and thus, a more expensive one). As a result, when you buy a Slanket you get just the Slanket (plus a nice thank-you note from Gary). On the other hand, when you buy a Snuggie, it's half the price, and it's so cheap that they have to give you two blankets and two reading lights (because you really need those) to make it worth the purchase. I also like this comparison:
"If you take a look at both the Slanket and the Snuggie, one difference that stands out is that the Slanket actually looks like a big blanket, whereas the Snuggie makes you look like you are returning from the evening vespers at your monestary — or that you have just been brainwashed into joining an apocalyptic cult."

So for me, really, there was no choice or discussion. If I was really going to get an oversized fleece blanket with sleeves, I was going to get a Slanket. I'm not embarrassed by this in the least, and I hope that, like my old coworkers, I'll convert you and you'll feel compelled to buy one too. I love my Slanket. Like the Web site says, it's "the best blanket ever!"


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bloom Is Off the Rose

I’m not much of an art fan — heck, I practically sprinted through the Louvre and wasn’t all that impressed by the ICA — but the news yesterday that Brandeis, my alma mater, will be closing the Rose Art Museum still came as a real bummer. I think I can count the total number of times I've browsed through the museum on one hand (if I even need that many fingers), but I’d like to think that when I was a student, I still could appreciate the value it added to the campus. I was arts editor of the Justice and I wrote or edited stories about the Rose often. Each time, the passion with which people would discuss the collection or a new exhibit was inspiring. (One exhibit involving an entire tree was particularly memorable for me.)

So to hear that the university will not only be closing the museum, but will also be selling off the entire collection — one worth around $350 million and including works by such artists as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein — seems to me like more than just the end of an era. The Rose is a campus institution, and a much-respected cultural landmark in the Boston area. Its shuttering creates a real void in the art scene, and also lessens the cultural significance of Brandeis itself — a school that has played host to such greats as Leonard Bernstein. As Justice writer Daniel Orkin wrote in today’s issue, “While the Rose may not be as profitable as any of our famed butter-substitute-generating research labs, it remains an absolutely vital component [of] our history, prestige and identity as a respected institution of learning and as a celebrated center of art and culture.” I hope that before the doors are closed for good this summer that I’ll make it back over to the campus to give the Rose one last look and pay tribute to an overlooked gem that will definitely be missed.

Update: If you want to join the cause, click here: Save the Rose Art Museum, or join the Facebook group.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Put a Ring on Mayberry

I love this. Kudos to Party Ben for his editing (and thanks to EW's PopWatch for the tip). If you want to download the track in MP3 format, click here.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm Already Yawning

So the Oscar nominations were announced today. Wanna watch the announcement? Here you go:

What're my thoughts? Well, I'm not excited. For one thing, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is waaaaaay overrated. Some categories are largely as expected, based on previous awards nominees. Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, for example. But others had their share of surprises, and not good ones. The Reader, which I still have yet to see, got a slot for Best Picture instead of the very worthy The Dark Knight, which I was really pulling for and which had a legit shot at a nomination based on nominations by the Producers, Writers, and Directors Guilds. I'm also really really surprised by the omission of Bruce Springsteen and Jamie Cullum from the Best Song category for their contributions to The Wrestler and Gran Tornio, respectively. I was really looking forward to both performances on the telecast. And what's with two of the only three Best Song nominations going to Slumdog Millionaire? I also think that not nominating Dark Knight for Best Score was a huge omission. And does Angelina Jolie deserve her Best Actress nomination (for Changeling)? No.

Truth be told, there's nothing about the nominations that really gets me excited for the ceremony this year. At this point, it's pretty safe to say Slumdog Millionaire will win Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, and that Mickey Rourke and Heath Ledger will win too. Otherwise, I could really care less about Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress this year, and many of the other categories. I really hope Benjamin Button doesn't win many of the 13 categories it's nominated in. And more importantly, I hope host Hugh Jackman is good, because otherwise it could be a very, very, very long night for me when the awards are handed out on February 22.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Too Much Change Needed

Alright, so not all was worth celebrating on Inauguration Day. Eager to have a keepsake, I stopped off on the way home from work to pick up the Globe's special Inauguration Extra. After all, on a day like that, despite the Web and the decreasing interest in print media, you still can't replace the tangible reminder that a newspaper provides. I expected the Extra edition to be the day's paper, but with an updated version of the front section. Instead, it was just an 8-page recap of the swearing-in ceremony itself, with the full text of Obama's speech, some analysis, and a compilation of some of his previous speeches. But that's it, just eight pages. What's worse, it cost $2, which, if you don't know, is $1.25 more than the entire daily paper. Yes, I bought it anyway, but I felt like a real sucker.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Great Day in America

Keith Olbermann looks back on the day (after a brief snippet of Joe Biden at one of the balls) ...

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Hail to the New Chief

"The time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness."


Today Is the Day

I'm really not a very political person. I don't side with any causes passionately and I can't hold my own in an intelligent political discussion. But there's something that really engaged me about the election last year, and while I thought it had something to do with politics, I don't think that's actually true. Perhaps it was the drama of it all. More likely it was Barack Obama himself. That guy could make a stone come alive.

Whatever it was that excited me about Obama's trajectory to the White House, which hits its zenith today with his inauguration, I'm right back there in that mindset again. There's something in the air, a palpable buzz, and I feel it. Sunday, watching the concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I often felt a real sense of pride and got chills. Just seeing the news coverage of Obama at various events or listening to him speak is awe inspiring. After eight years of being disengaged, detached, angry, and lethargic, the country is reawakening. This feels different, unlike any other inauguration — unlike Bill Clinton's even. It has to be what people felt when Kennedy was elected. This is history. I have to say, it's really exciting to be alive, to be an American, and to be witnessing it.

I'm not saying that all of a sudden I'm overcome with any sense of political purpose or that I'm going to start reading the Washington Post every day. Nor am I saying that I've had some great revelation or that I'm now going to become more involved in causes. And of course, I don't mean to go on like all kinds of self-righteous, self-centered celebrities have been in recent days, making it all about them. All I'm saying is that at noon today, like so many other people around the world, I'll be in front of a television watching the swearing in and then Obama's address, and I really can't wait. I'm interested like I've never been before. I hope these feelings I'm feeling stay with me and do spur me to become more politically active or service-oriented in the future, or at the very least, to become a more politically aware person.

Congratulations to our new president, Barack Obama!


Monday, January 19, 2009


Absurd Associate Press headline of the day:
Tom Cruise 'always wanted to kill Hitler'

A Hopeful Sign

Harvey Shine is one of those sad sack characters we meet every now and then in the movies. Within the first third of Last Chance Harvey, he's lost his job, he's missed a flight, he's belittled by his ex-wife, and he's been told by his daughter on the eve of her wedding (that, by the way, he's flown from New York to London to attend) that she considers her stepfather to be a more significant parent than Harvey was. He's lost, sad, lonely, out of his element, and hopeless. And then ... And then he meets Kate Walker in a bar, and wouldn't you know it, Harvey gets a new outlook on life and is willing to take a chance on love again. So goes LCH, a charming little film that's like a hybrid of Before Sunrise/Sunset and An Affair to Remember for people my parents' age to enjoy.

Led by very likable performances by Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, LCH doesn't reinvent the romantic drama or push any boundaries. In fact, some of it is predictable and sort of silly (like an unnecessary subplot about Kate's mother being scared of her neighbor). But no matter. Hoffman and Thompson transcend the material and make a very appealing, if a little unlikely, couple. This one won't rock your world or anything, but it's pleasant, sweet, and enjoyable, and the acting by the two stars makes LCH worth seeing. I'm giving it a strong B.


Hit the Road, George

On this, the final full day of George W. Bush's presidency, I thought I'd share David Letterman's final "Great Moments in Presidential Speeches" compilation, from his show Friday night. I'd like to say I will miss Bush because he's provided some great comedy over the years, but the truth is I won't miss him very much at all. My favorite clip here comes around 3:40. Watch for the kid standing behind Bush.

For an alternate version of this compilation not assembled by Letterman's people, click here.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Emergency Band Meeting

Tonight's the night I've been waiting for: It's the premiere of season two of Flight of the Conchords! If you didn't watch this show last year, you really missed out. FotC is a show about a folk-parody duo from New Zealand trying to make it big in New York. They've got a clueless manager, one devoted fan, and no real chance of success. The music is hysterical; check out this example or these songs. In short, FotC was one of my favorite shows of 2008.

Anyway, depending on when you read this, maybe you can't wait for tonight. Or maybe you missed the episode after it aired. Either way, the season two premiere is embedded in its entirety below. Truth be told, I watched the episode a couple weeks ago on iTunes, but you can watch it right here, right now. Enjoy!

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Life Is Better

I always thought the first rule of condo-buying was "Get a new TV." Well, I waited to get mine. But now I can introduce y'all to my new BFF, a 42-inch LCD TV from LG. I ordered it from (low prices, no tax, and free delivery/set-up!) and it arrived yesterday. Woo hoo! The TV was intended to be a joint housewarming/birthday gift, but given the delay, and the fact that I also used money I received for Hanukkah to buy it, and the fact that I was holding out till I got a new job, and then I used a Best Buy gift card I received as a farewell gift from my old company toward the purchase of a stand, the TV is like a big ole belated multi-occasion present to myself. And, since I was holding onto the stimulus check I got over the summer to use toward this purchase, it also allows me to play my part in the jump-starting of the economy.

But forget about all that. My new TV is damned cool. First of all, it just looks great. It's sleek and black, with a red accent around the edges. The picture on the screen is large, it's so bright and sharp, the blacks are deep blacks, and the 120Hz makes it all even better. Plus, the sound is good (though I'll admit, it would be better if I had surround sound speakers). Damn, I love my new TV (and of course, that photo up there just doesn't do it justice). I can't wait to watch all my favorite shows on it. Yesterday I watched The Dark Knight using my new upconverting DVD player and it looked good. I even like the TV stand, which I assembled all by myself. But the TV is really awesome on a day like today, what with the multi-colored high definition weather reports and football games and all. And with the snow coming down outside, it looks like I'll be spending most of today on my couch getting to know my new acquisition.

LG's corporate slogan is Life's Good. Today I can say that my life, which was already pretty darned good, is even better. Woo hoo!

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good for Youk

Kevin Youkilis has reached a deal with the Red Sox that will pay him $41 million over four years, a deal that also includes a club option for $13 million if he stays until 2013. That would bring the total value of the deal to $53 million over five seasons. Not sure what needs to be said about this other than "Good for you, Youk!" This is much deserved. And nice job, Sox, for locking in such a great player.


A Day to Remember

Kids! I've nearly let the entire day go by without acknowledging the 90th anniversary — 90th! — of one of my favorite days of the year: January 15, 1919, the day of the Great Molasses Flood. For such an important day, I sure do have a habit of forgetting when it is, but this year I'm going to get a post in just under the wire. If you know nothing about the flood, check out my post from three years ago. For even more, check out the book Dark Tide (yeah, no kidding).

A couple years ago, my friend Todd and I wrote our own little parody of the classic Paul Revere rhyme to commemorate the occasion of the flood's anniversary. It begins like this:

Gather my children and you shall smell
the scent of molasses — now run like hell!

Each year, we recite it and laugh ourselves silly. We did it this evening, in fact. Eventually, we'll also finish our big-screen adaptation of the Dark Tide book (appropriately, we're working verrrrrrrrry slowly). But for now, a happy anniversary to the flood. I'm going to mark this down on my calendar so I don't almost forget it again next year.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I Feel the Need ... the Need to Read

It's hard to believe that I've only been at my new job for a week and a half now. It feels like longer, and I mean that in the best possible way. Really. But of all the things I expected to miss, not surprisingly, the thing I miss the most is my commute. Which is not to say I'm unhappy with driving a half hour each way versus spending 45 minutes to an hour on the T. In fact, I quite enjoy driving to work, spending my mornings getting some extra time with Matty and the gang, and getting home at night before 6 p.m. No, what I miss is that quality time I had to read all my magazines. Would you believe I'm still trying to make my way through a two-week-old issue of Entertainment Weekly? My new issue of Rolling Stone showed up yesterday and I have no clue when I'm going to read that. God help me when my other magazines show up in the mail.

I know what you're thinking: It's a terrible problem for anyone to have. And yes, I'm definitely in mini-crisis mode. What's made the situation worse is that Monday I decided I would start bringing magazines with me to work so I could read during lunch. Of course, that night, How I Met Your Mother put the kibosh on that plan (see below). So, maybe I just won't read as much as I used to. Maybe before long I'll start canceling some of my subscriptions. Or maybe I'll just have to watch less TV and make more time to read at home. Whatever I do, I guess it's safe to say I won't be reading a magazine at work anytime soon. Thanks, Marshall.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

This Will Only Take a Moment ...

Do you love this blog? Do you want even more Martin? Do you? Well, if you answered yes, then chances are good you’re going to love my brand new email newsletter, the Martin Moment. With any luck, I’ll be launching it sometime in February. My plans are to include the best of Martin’s Musings, some exclusive content, and even more fun stuff — all delivered right to your in-box. And, as a bonus, you’ll get to see the kind of stuff I’m working on these days. Yes, it’s a bit self-promotional, but I’m hoping to make the Martin Moment really cool and not a form of spam that you’ll delete right away. And, like with any e-newsletter, you’ll have the chance to opt-out at any time if it’s lame. Hell, if it’s lame, I’m going to opt-out too.

To get the Martin Moment, all you need to do is type your email address into the box on the top right-hand side of the screen. It’s just that simple. And then sit patiently while I prepare the first issue. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Phone Books: The Sequel

Sometimes sequels can be good, right? Toy Story 2 was a heck of a good movie. So was Godfather 2. So here's something close to as good as those films: Just about a week after I blogged about my building receiving too many phone books, I have discovered that Yellowbook is allowing people to opt-out of receiving phone books in the future, both yellow and white pages. Far be it from me to take any credit for this (and seriously, I know I had nothing to do with it), but this is great news. Now my neighbors and I just have to recycle all the books that are still sitting in the same place where they were left last week ...

Fill 'Em Up

I suppose it's a little premature to be posting this now, given that we're in the middle of another storm and all and the plows are coming around again, but damn — when is someone going to do something about the potholes on Commonwealth Ave. around Boston College? No, not on the main road. The carriage lane from the bottom of the hill to around Mt. Alvernia Road is all broken up with craters that make driving on the street similar to what I'd expect it's like to drive on the moon (forgetting the whole no-gravity thing, obviously). It's a hazard to both drivers and pedestrians because I'm sure I'm not the only one who swerves to avoid getting a flat tire (and yes, I drive slowly). Maybe the Town of Newton could take care of this before some residents who are less passive aggressive start complaining? And of course, before it gets any worse. After all, it'd be nice if my ability to make change wasn't just limited to Brookline.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Spinning the Wheel

MacWorld is this week, and the Onion has news about the biggest product announcement of the day, a laptop with no keyboard! Behold ... the MacBook Wheel. As Steve Jobs says, people who use keyboards are "standing in the way of human progress."

Monday, January 05, 2009

On the Record

In his new book, Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, writer Steve Knopper explores the history of the record companies, from the 1960s and the creation of the CD to the present day, trying to explain why the industry enjoyed such boom times in the 1980s and late 1990s, and why it's in the crapper today. I suppose it wouldn't take much thought for any casual music fan and amateur industry analyst to provide a guess as to where the business went wrong, but chances are it would not be as thorough or enjoyably presented as Appetite is.

Knopper knows his stuff — he's been a regular contributor to Wired and Rolling Stone for years — but rather than rehash his old articles and tell the same old stories (like Jeff Gordinier did in his X Saves the World), he's gone back to the well, conducting more than 200 brand new interviews with executives and others who've had a hand in creating or distributing music over the past 40 years. Much of Appetite is anecdotal and episodic, with Knopper zeroing in on one or two characters for pages at a time and telling their stories. There's a chunk about Steve Jobs and his early struggles with getting the record companies to buy into the iTunes Music Store, of course, and there are sections about Shawn Fanning, Lou Pearlman, and Walter Yetnikoff, among others. Yes, you've probably heard some of this before, and Knopper seems to know that, but the way he tells the stories, it's still entertaining. The Napster chapter is one example where I basically knew the story arc, but I still loved reading about it and learning some new facts about the players involved. It brought me right back to those heady days when I was enjoying the software, before it was taken offline.

It doesn't really ruin anything to say that Knopper's message is essentially that the record companies screwed themselves and have only themselves to blame for their current financial woes. They tried to duplicate the success of Thriller too many times, they took advantage of music buyers by raising prices of CDs too high, they sued their own customers at the dawn of the digital age, and they still haven't adequately capitalized on the potential of the Internet. As charismatic as some of them are, the executives often are presented as slow-to-react traditionalists who resist new technologies, not even realizing the potential of CDs at first, and who stick to the "tried and true" and other old fashioned methods rather than embracing new ways of reaching customers. Everything is included — everything. For example, Knopper includes a history of the longbox and gives appropriate grief to SONY BMG's rootkit, the software included on some CDs (including one by Neil Diamond) that installed viruses and worms on users' computers without their knowing. Suffice it to say, music fans won't find many heroes in this book; instead, they'll be saying "I told you so" over and over.

Full disclosure: I know Steve Knopper, and have worked with him multiple times on articles for Continental magazine. One of my favorite Knopper articles in Continental was about the Chicago blues scene. Point is, I am not entirely unbiased about this book. But that said, if you're a music fan, like I am, I hope you'll give this one a try. It's a quick but comprehensive read, and it's full of really interesting information. If Appetite is correct, and the record industry will soon be dead, then Knopper's book will serve as one hell of an obituary.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Lesson Learned

There's a saying that says if you learn something new every day, then you live a good life. (Wait, there isn't a saying that says that? Well fancy that, I've just learned something else.) Well, for as long as I can remember, I've disliked the parking lot at the Landmark Kendall Square movie theater, especially in the winter, when not only do you have to stand in line in the cold to pay nearly $5 for parking, but then you have to roll down your car window on the way out to insert your ticket into a machine so the gate will go up. It's annoying. I know, it's a pretty silly reason not to like the garage, but the bigger issue, I suppose, is that, given the location, driving to the theater is, like, your only option for getting there. So I don't appreciate having to pay so much for parking, especially when there are cheaper options available in the neighborhood.

For many years now, when I've gone to the Landmark, I've parked on a side street a block or two away from the theater (I believe it's Fulkerson St.). When there was construction on the street, there used to be free parking there, but now there are meters. Given the street's reasonably out of the way location, I've had good luck and haven't received any tickets when I didn't feed my meter enough. So Saturday, when I arrived to see the 5 p.m. screening of Revolutionary Road with Nina and I didn't have any change in my pocket to feed the meter (which had already expired), I figured I'd be alright. After all, no policefolk are going to be patrolling that random street during the 5:00 hour on a Saturday afternoon, right? Wrong. When I got back to my car after 8 p.m. (we had dinner after the movie), I had a ticket waiting for me that had a timestamp of 5:43 on it. The amount? $25. It was then that Nina told me about the new Cambridge police department headquarters, located a block away from where I had parked, which was due to open this month. d'OH! I guess you could say karma finally caught up to me. Suffice it to say, I won't be making that mistake again. Next time, the meter will be fed and I'll be a more responsible parker.

Baby New Year

As problems go, this one is not really a problem. Abby came to visit for a few days this weekend to wish me a Happy New Year, and she had gotten so cute (cuter than the last time I took photos and even cuter than the last time she was in Boston) that my camera just kinda went nuts while she was here. (Saturday we even did an impromptu mini photo shoot when she was cuddled up against me in my apartment.) Now I've got a surplus of great photos and I'm not sure which ones are the most frame-worthy. It's a definite quandary, especially because I've already got a few photos of her framed and, you know, when do you replace the older ones of her when she was younger with the newer ones now that she's eight months old? I just can't figure out what to do. Help me: Check out the latest collection and tell me which ones are your favorites. It's a tough choice, eh?

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Hopeless Emptiness

It's the summer of 1955 and all is not what it seems deep in the New York suburbs. The new film Revolutionary Road tells the story of Frank and Alice Wheeler (played by real-life BFFs Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet), a young couple who move to the titular address, where the neighbors all think they're special and the perfect couple: They're attractive, they've got two kids, a beautiful home, a blissfully happy marriage, the whole bit. But the Wheelers are anything but happy, and from early on in the film, we know that beneath the surface, this is a couple that is far from in love. Frank sleeps with members of the secretarial pool in his office, and Alice longs to live in Paris, where she can be the breadwinner and Frank can stay home with the kids. Revolutionary Road turns '50s cliches on their head, with Alice taking charge of the relationship, and makes suburban domesticity seem like hell, not bliss.

Director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins include some gorgeous shots of Frank commuting to the city, emphasizing — with no subtlety whatsoever — that while everyone may think he's special, Frank is really just an average guy, a face in the crowd. Their production design team has added to the aesthetic, making the setting look awfully serene. And at the center of the action, the beautiful Kate Winslet gives a nice performance — it's not her best work, but compared to DiCaprio, it's very good. He, on the other hand, is disappointingly wooden and sometimes delivers his lines like he's the best actor in a high school play. Supporting performances are more memorable: Michael Shannon makes quite an impression as an institutionalized man who is perhaps the only person to see what's really going on with the Wheelers. Also worth noting is David Harbour, a former high school chum of mine, who plays Shep, the Wheelers' neighbor, who has a crush on April.

Like the Wheelers themselves, you can't judge a book by its cover. And Revolutionary Road is ultimately a pretty disappointing film. The screenplay doesn't delve deep enough to give the movie much heart, and having wooden actors delivering some of the most important dialogue doesn't really help the cause. So in the end, I'm giving you some directions to avoid this street, and I'll give the movie a B–.