Sunday, April 26, 2009

And to Think That I Saw It on Newbury Street

With all due apologies to Dr. Seuss, today was a great day to be out and about in the Back Bay area. Not that I saw anything soooo exciting, but the sights and sounds were nice enough that I thought they merited a quick blog post. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the weather was warm, there was a pleasant breeze at times, a parade was going by on Boylston St., musicians were playing in the Public Garden, flowers were in bloom, stores were practically empty, outside dining areas were crowded, people were wearing less clothing ... and I took it all in with a great big smile on my face. This has been a really great weekend and it'll be a bummer to have to be back in the office tomorrow.

This next one I call "The parade wasn't exciting enough, so the horses gave us some potential comedy."

And finally, this one I call "Hey, where'd the parade go?"

Labels: ,

He's Got a Friend

"I've had a few setbacks," says Nathaniel Ayers by way of explaining why he, a talented musician, is living on the street. The same could be said about Jamie Foxx, who, after starring in Ray and winning an Oscar, went a long time before he found a role as good. With The Soloist, Foxx finally has a chance to show filmgoers how good an actor he can be. As Ayers, a schizophrenic, Julliard-trained homeless man, Foxx gives a moving performance. He never once resorts to caricature, and he makes you wish he took on such serious roles more often.

The Soloist is not a one-man movie, of course. Robert Downey Jr. plays Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist who meets Ayers one day by chance and becomes his friend. He, too, gives an impressive performance. In a refreshing change from most movies of this type, Lopez is no perfect white knight. He's wary of getting too involved with Ayers, and he loses his patience at times. Screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and director Joe Wright (Atonement) don't give Lopez some cheesy realization scene either when he realizes the impact he's had on Ayers' life, nor do they create a lame montage of reader reactions. Both are much appreciated. (By the way, this film is based on a true story, and on Lopez's book of the same name. )

Like State of Play, The Soloist seeks to canonize newspapers and newspaper reporters, showing the lengths they will go for a story and the ways their work can be effective. There's a welcome believability to it here that doesn't feel forced or heavy-handed. Further authenticity comes from the fact that Wright uses actual homeless people as extras and in small supporting roles, not actors. And I suppose it should also be noted that the music is quite nice, even if it is mostly string instruments (and you know how I feel about those).

The Soloist was originally supposed to be released last fall, in the heart of Oscar season, but it was delayed. Usually that's a bad sign, but not here. That said, the film's good, but I don't think it would have been a strong awards contender. Releasing it now allows The Soloist to get a little more attention, something it deserves. I'm giving it a strong B.

Labels: ,

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Get Out!

"Unseasonably warm" is one of my favorite phrases, and I've been hearing it a lot in the past couple days because temperatures are in the 70s and 80s this weekend. You know, people who live in cities that are warm year-round (like Los Angeles) often kid me about why I stay in Boston when it's so cold in the winter. And invariably, I tell them it's because of days and weekends like this. When, after a long, cold, snowy winter, the weather finally gets warm and sunny, and we have our first taste of spring (or, in this case, summer) weather. Everyone goes outside, has a smile on their face, and is just happy. You dig the shorts out from your dresser drawers and put on a short-sleeve shirt, maybe also some flip-flops. You go for a walk, or maybe you get in the car, put the windows down, and turn the radio up. There are lines at ice cream places. The malls are empty. The Red Sox are winning. And it's awesome. When you've not had warm days like this in so long, you just appreciate them more.

Last night I got out of work a little early, got home, changed into a pair of shorts, and went for a walk around the reservoir over here by Cleveland Circle. All kinds of people were out. I even bumped into some friends. The sky was blue, the air was warm, I had my iPod on, I was getting some exercise, and it all felt really good. I'll probably make another couple loops today (at least) and a couple more tomorrow. I love spring in Boston. Really, why would I want to live anywhere else?


Thursday, April 23, 2009

This One Was For Us

Where to start about night two of Bruce Springsteen's two-night homestand at the TD Banknorth Garden? The show was longer (just about exactly three hours); it had more of an emphasis on his older, less mainstream material; the band covered "I Wanna Be Sedated"; I had a better seat; and man oh man, can that Jay Weinberg play! And as if that wasn't enough, the Dropkick Murphys joined Bruce on stage for the encore, amping up an already boisterous "American Land." Oh, and did I mention Jay Weinberg and his amazing skills on the drums? Wow.

Yes, night two featured some of the same thematic elements and schtick as night one (including the same jokes about Patti Scialfa falling off a horse not being related to Madonna's similar fall), but it also featured a different-enough set list that, for me, made it feel like an entirely different show. (Check out the handwritten set list below; it looks like the show could have been even more different.) It was great to hear "Spirit in the Night," "Thunder Road," "Glory Days," and especially, "Jungleland," during which Clarence Clemons did another one of his awe-inspiring solos. I continued to be impressed with "Outlaw Pete," and loved the way the simple effect of smoke made the song so much more dramatic. I was intrigued by how little Bruce played off Working on a Dream (only three songs tonight; "The Wrestler" took the night off). Oh, and did I mention Jay Weinberg yet?

When Max goes off to serve as Conan O'Brien's bandleader on The Tonight Show in June, 18-year-old Jay (his son) will be sitting in full-time on the drums. Until then, Jay comes out for four songs at the end of the first set. Both nights, he ratcheted up the energy level instantly, picking up the tempo and taking "Radio Nowhere" to places unknown, and making "Lonesome Day" more hard-driving than ever. The kid can really pound those drums, and you got the sense Wednesday night that as good as Max is, he felt like he had to raise his game during the encore, which he did on "Land of Hope and Dreams." Jay was back for "American Land" and "Glory Days," and wow ... he just goes nuts on those drums. I know it's sacrilegious to say, but I'd love to see the E Street Band when Jay plays full-time. What exciting shows those will be this summer.

Not that this one was lacking for excitement. There was the Dropkick Murphys' surprise appearance for one thing (bummer, they didn't do "Shipping Off to Boston" or "Tessie"), and the granted audience request of "I Wanna Be Sedated" for another. (For the record, if you're interested, the other two requested songs were "Spirit in the Night" and "For You," both from Greetings from Asbury Park.) Then there was one extra song tacked on to the end of the show after "Glory Days." Then, of course, there was "Born to Run" again. I swear, if you've never seen Bruce live, and never experienced the sensation of hearing the opening chord, seeing the house lights go up, and watching as the entire audience raises their fists and sings along to every single word, then you just have no idea how transcendent live music can be. Springsteen gets the entire audience in the palm of his hand, and he just whips everyone into a frenzied state. It's awesome. It makes the entire show and every penny you pay for it completely and totally worth it, no matter how many times you've seen it.

I've never been to two Springsteen shows two nights in a row (here again is my night one review), but I'd definitely do it again. On his way off stage, Bruce said this to the crowd: "You guys never disappoint. You still stoke the fire in our belly when we get here." The feeling is mutual. I'm going to remember this week for a long time, and I'll be counting the days till Bruce comes back again.

(Again, the concert photos are courtesy of

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Meet Him in the Land of Hope and Dreams

"I will provide for you, and I'll stand by your side," Bruce Springsteen sang at one point during his show Tuesday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. "You'll need a good companion for this part of the ride." Over the course of almost three hours, Springsteen was that companion, taking the audience through hard times and to salvation, raising us up on his shoulders, and showing us that there are brighter days ahead. As always, it was a thrilling, exciting, exhausting show, one that was light on promotion for his latest album and heavier on barn burning revivalism.

What more can really be said about Springsteen concerts than I have already said in previous postings? Whenever I see him live, I'm always reminded of Bono's speech when he inducted Bruce into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: "They call him the Boss. Well that's a bunch of crap. He's not the boss. He works for us." And how. No one in music works harder, puts more into a show, exceeds every expectation, and does it night after night after night after night. The man is just amazing. No wonder he's my favorite live performer. And that band! The "heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, earth-quaking, nerve-breaking, history-making, legendary" E Street Band never lets him down, even on songs they haven't performed in more than 20 years.

I'm talking about ZZ Top's "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide," which Bruce performed for the first time since 1987 (which was, of course, when he was on a hiatus from the E Streeters; he performed it with the band in 1984). It was one of his audience requests, and even on that, the band wasn't stumped. This middle part of the show — when Bruce takes signs from the audience and plays some of the better requests — is a definite highlight these days and I always love seeing what he picks. Other requests Tuesday night included "I'm Going Down" and "Growin' Up."

But back to that message of hope and salvation. The setlist on this tour has a definite theme to it, with a section early on that includes "Seeds," "Johnny 99," and, especially, "The Ghost of Tom Joad" calling to mind the struggles that so many are facing today. But for every song that talks about struggle, there is another that talks of redemption. Those three songs were answered by "Waiting on a Sunny Day," "The Promised Land," and, in the encore, "Land of Hope and Dreams." Bruce also sings the more pointed "Hard Times (Come Again No More)," which seems to sum it all up right there. In this context, some songs, like "The Rising," have even more meaning, and others, like "Born to Run," mean something different ("Someday, girl, I don't know when, we're gonna get to that place where we really want to go, and we'll walk in the sun").

Of course, this was still a Bruce Springsteen show, and it had all the hallmarks: incredible musicianship (by Nils Lofgren and Max Weinberg's son, Jay, especially), enthusiastic crowd participation, and no distractions. In fact, with the exception of a smoke machine that was employed during "Outlaw Pete," there was no set or special effects. Just Bruce, the band, and the music. And he played some great classics, like "Rosalita," "Adam Raised a Cain," "Badlands," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and, of course, the highlight of any concert, "Born to Run." No matter how many times the guy plays that song and no matter how many times I hear it, it never gets old.

No surprise: Bruce came, he saw, and he conquered, just like he's done so many times in the past. He's just an amazing performer, and no amount of hyperbole can adequately get that across. Tuesday night's show was just the latest in a long line of impressive evenings. I wonder what Wednesday night's show has in store. Good thing I'll be there to find out.

(Thanks to for a couple of the photos you see here.)

Update 4/23: Here's a link to my night two review.

Labels: , ,

Monday, April 20, 2009

Born to (watch runners) Run

I know people in New York and Chicago brag about their races, but for my money, there's no better marathon than the one here in Boston. I just love the communal feel of the day, and the way the route snakes through the suburbs before finally ending at Copley Square. That allows people everywhere to really be a part of the race and make it a festive, fun day, even if you're not running.

As much as I have enjoyed watching downtown near the finish line in years past, watching it here at Boston College is also a great deal of fun. For one thing, I can see all the action out the window of my condo. But that's not as cool as going out on Comm Ave and watching as the hordes of runners turn the corner at the top of the hill and just descend, like the pack of wildebeasts in The Lion King (yes, I made that same analogy last year). And then they just keep coming, for two or three hours. It's an amazing, awe-inspiring sea of humanity. Not even the college kids, some of them standing halfway in the middle of the road to give out high-fives, can get in their way.

This year, as in years past, I kept my eyes peeled for my former coworker, Ken (aka: Boom-Boom). What a thrill it was when he picked me out of the crowd, thanks to the sign I was holding. (And how cool is it that when going through my photos, I found him in one of them?) And then, because I had a heads up and knew to look for him, I was able to pick out the iPhone Guy a short while after Ken ran by. I also saw "Hubb-O and Wife-O," Abe Lincoln, the Hoyts, a couple Supermen and Batmen, Captain America, and all sorts of other folks. And of course, I cheered for Kevin, Keith, Sue, Nancy, Bill, Joe, and anyone else I saw with a name on their shirt, and held out my hand to slap a few high-fives of my own. One person even tried for (and got) a fist bump. Good times.

Oh, and the quote of the day came from a guy who, when asked where Hopkinton (the start of the route) is, pointed up the hill and replied, "About 21 miles that way."

And now, as I write this and look out the window, the roads have opened up and the cleanup has begun. The race is over, and I can turn my attention to the day's other events: in addition to the marathon, the Red Sox won big and tonight the Bruins and Celtics continue their playoff runs. What a day. What a race. I love this city.


I Scream

Wanted to give you a heads up that tomorrow is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. This annual, well, holiday is one of the most exciting days of the year, and I'm already looking forward to my free scoop of Phish Food. Or will it be Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough? Or Chocolate Therapy? The choices are almost overwhelming. I may have to go back twice. Or three times.

Of course, Ben & Jerry's isn't the only place giving out ice cream in the next few days. Next Wednesday, April 29, Baskin-Robbins is having its annual 31-cent Scoop Night, where you can get yourself some yummy ice cream for almost nothing, and support a good cause too (all the proceeds go to the National Volunteer Fire Council National Junior Firefighter Program).

So ... start saving your appetite, get your spoon ready, and save me a place in line!

Labels: , ,

Loving Lily

From the moment she first appeared Sunday night on the stage of the House of Blues, wearing a low-cut red onesie, sneakers, and a red Red Sox cap tilted to the side, Lily Allen made it clear that she had come to Boston to have a good time. She even wore red socks as a tribute to her host city, and promised a "wicked pissah," even though she clearly had no idea what that meant. But no matter. In just under an hour and a half, Lily Allen gave all in attendance a great show that was big on fun and big on attitude — but with plenty of talent too.

It wasn't just Lily's outfit — which showed off her adorable backside — that was cheeky. The rebellious Brit's current album, It's Not Me, It's You, which I love, is filled with lyrics bemoaning ex-boyfriends' lack of sexual prowess, the lack of substance in celebrity culture, and even throws in a kiss-off to George W. Bush for good measure. And it's all delivered in a sweet sounding voice and with catchy melodies that makes for a fun juxtaposition. In person, Lily maintained that dual nature, looking adorable, but throwing around profanity and repeatedly breaking the city's ban on smoking indoors at places like bars and clubs. (She must have smoked at least five cigarettes during the course of the show.)

Sunday night, while scampering around the stage, Lily performed every song off her latest album, throwing in only three songs from her debut (Alright, Still). Each one sounded, to use a British phrase, bloody brilliant. Lily sounded as good as she does on the album, if not better. On songs like "Never Gonna Happen" and "Fuck You," she had the crowd enthusiastically singing along, and she clearly loved it. The beat went on with songs like "LDN," "Him," and the country-ish "Not Fair," all of which were great. Of course, for every rude song, there was one like "Chinese," which she preceded by saying how hard it was to be away on tour for so long, and then dedicated to her mum. And Lily saved her biggest hits, "The Fear" and "Smile" for the encore — during which, it's worth mentioning, she was wearing a lobster tee-shirt dress.

If there was any misstep in the entire show, it was an odd "competition" between two women picked from the audience who were each asked to eat a bowl of baked beans. This just went on far too long, and was wholly unnecessary. Thankfully, Lily's other attempt at interactivity was more successful: during "Smile," she picked two kids, both no older than 12, from the audience, and when she put the microphone in their faces, they showed they knew every line of the song, even the one about having "a little wine and a moan." Good stuff.

Lily closed the show with her cover of Britney Spears' "Womanizer," and it was so rocking that unfortunately, it just sounded like noise. Too bad. The rest of the concert was so much fun that I can't wait till Lily comes stateside again so I can see her in concert once more.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Not Joining the Chorus

I haven't exactly joined the Susan Boyle bandwagon this week, though a few of my friends have been trying to get me there. Still, I enjoyed this mashup of the media coverage that put together and thought I'd share.

Labels: ,

Runners, Take Your Mark ...

Tomorrow is Patriots' Day here in Massachusetts (one of my favorite days of the year), and in the city, it's the day of the Marathon. For the second year, I'll be watching right outside my condo here at B.C., and I can't wait. So in preparation, here's a nice video from about the finer points of the route.


Like, OMG! It's That Zac Efron Movie!

17 Again is one of those easygoing, contrived, suspension-of-disbelief, body-switching movies that asks so little of its audience — just that it believe most every plot point and most every character development are totally plausible. Easy, right? So in that spirit, I thought I would review this movie as if I was one of the 14-year-old girls who were in the theater with me. Here goes ...

OMG, Zac Efron is, like, totally hot!! When 17 Begins, he is playing basketball with his shirt off and he's, like, all sweaty. But Zac's not just hot, he's also, like, totally a nice guy. And we know that because his best friend is, like, the biggest loser in the school. But that's okay, because Zac is the captain of the basketball team — OMG, just like in the High School Musical movies! — so no one says anything bad. Okay, but things go wrong because Zac gets his girlfriend pregnant and then he doesn't go to college, and when he grows up, he's, like, a total loser who isn't good to his wife or his two kids. Oh, and he's played by that guy Chandler, from Friends. So because it's much cooler to be Zac Efron, he asks to go back to when he was 17. And then he tries to make up with his wife and kids, only they don't know that this totally hot, cool guy is really their husband/father! And no one really cares that he looks EXACTLY like he did when he was 17 — not even his wife, who was his high school sweetheart! Can you believe it?! I know! They're all, like, "OMG! We get to hang out with Zac Efron!" And Zac is so dreamy, with his bangs and all, and he gets to wear cool clothes and play basketball again. And of course, he gets his wife to totally forgive him for everything because, well, Zac is so sweet. So yeah, this movie is, like, so good ...

Yeah, I'm not really a 14-year-old girl. (Really.) So suffice it to say, 17 Again wasn't Best Picture material for me. I only went to see it because somebody has to support Matthew Perry's career. But thankfully, the movie is tolerable if you know what you're going to get. Oddly, it does get really geeky at times — I think all the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings references are going to be lost on all the tween girls in the audience — but then Zac reappears and his amiable, easy charm distracts effectively enough. Hot or not, the kid can carry a movie effortlessly. There's also a decent soundtrack, which includes the Kooks' "Naive," so that makes it enjoyable too. Have I written more than enough about this movie by now? Yeah. So I'll just give it my grade (C+), move on, and ask that we not speak of this review ever again. Thanks.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Not So Into It

Flight of the Conchords played the Agganis Arena at B.U. Friday night. The concert featured the guys — Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement — performing largely acoustic versions of songs from both seasons of the show, and they even brought fellow cast members Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal along for the ride as their opening acts.

For those who still have not discovered the Conchords TV show, McKenzie and Clement are New Zealand's fourth most popular folk-digi-pop-parody duo. The show can be really hysterical (it's one of my favorites), and a good part of that is due to the music itself, which is always performed in such an earnest, deadpan style that it sometimes takes a second listen to realize just what it is the guys are singing. Taken out of the context of the show, though, the songs lose a little je ne sais quoi. Yes, when the guys just sit there on stools singing, you can hear the lyrics better (and btw, the acoustics and sound quality at the concert were great), but you miss out on the facial expressions and dance moves. And that visual element is a big part of why these songs are so funny.

Bret and Jemaine made it pretty clear early on that their concert would be a simple one: there'd be songs, then some talking (actually, some "professional talking," they called it, as opposed to the crowd heckling), then some more songs, and then more talking. Sure enough, that's what we got. The songs they played were mostly good, including the classics "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)" and "Business Time." The guys also played great stuff like "If You're Into It," "Carol Brown," and "Think About It." In between the tunes, the guys tried to figure out if 1,000 people could make a pyramid, and they made a plea to save the whales because they're helpless and can't dial 911 on their own due to their extra-large flippers. I laughed, but I wouldn't say it was uproarious comedy.

It didn't help that the concert took place at the Agganis, a venue too big for such an intimate-type show. Much of the charm of the Conchords is that they're such clueless, out of it performers, so there was a bit of a disconnect seeing them in such a large venue where they came off as more confident and in control. Worse, because we were sitting the entire time and I just couldn't see the guys well enough on my own, I spent much of the concert watching on the big TV screens, and that was a real bummer. And I was surprised Bret and Jemaine didn't play "Rhymenoceros vs Hiphopopotamus," "A Kiss Is Not a Contract," or "Robots." I sorta knew they wouldn't be able to do "Foux da Fafa," so it's probably good they didn't try.

All this is not to say this was a bad concert. I laughed and had a good time, and some of the songs are really good. But I think I definitely prefer seeing the songs to only hearing them, and that left me feeling disappointed in the end.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rage Against the Machines

We live in a world that gets more automated every day. You can drive through toll booths without stopping to pay. You can open car doors without even taking out your key. You can turn on lights or other electronic devices simply by clapping your hands. You can say a person’s name and your phone will place the call. You can turn on a sink, a hand-dryer, or a paper-towel dispenser with just a wave of your hand. And you can flush a toilet just by standing up or stepping away. Those are just a few of the many examples, and I’ll bet that by the time you finish reading this post, there’ll be at least one more.

It’s gotten so bad that I’m starting to take certain things for granted. I mean, my initial instinct now is to not flush toilets because I’ve gotten so used to them flushing on their own. You can thank my workplace restroom for instilling that thought in my head. Also at work, all I need to do is stand in front of the paper towel dispenser and one will come out on its own, whether I need it to or not. It’s kind of scary.

I’m trying to resist the urge to let things happen on their own. After all, it’s not always good when things happen just because we want them to, and we don’t even need to put in the smallest amount of effort to make it so. Sometimes things just happen, and not the way we want them to. Convenience schmonvenience. There are certain elemental, basic things I’d like to keep doing for myself, before the robots take over the entire world. Grabbing paper towels and turning on the water in the sink are just two of them. So let’s see how long I can keep this a do-it-myself world.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Solid State

In the new film State of Play, Russell Crowe plays Cal McCaffrey, a hard-working beat reporter for the fictional Washington Globe, who is trying to solve a murder case. Then his old college roommate, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck), gets thrown into the mix when his research assistant, who he was having an affair with, turns up dead. Is there a connection between the two cases? McCaffrey will find out — if his conflicting loyalties don't trip him up in the process.

As if ripped from today's headlines, SoP feels current — and it may make Boston audiences chuckle a little too much. That's because McCaffrey's paper, the Globe, is also in financial straits with a parent company breathing down the editor's neck to print more sell-able stories. In fact, McCaffrey's biggest competition for his story is not another paper but an in-house blogger who is able to write and publish much quicker than he can. In other news, Collins is on a subcommittee that's going after a Halliburton-like military contractor. Oh yeah, and Harry Lennix, who plays a cop, bears an almost too-striking resemblance to Barack Obama.

Those distractions aside, SoP works as a political thriller. There are twists and turns, and the person (or people) responsible for the murders turns out to be not who you'd instantly suspect. (That said, people around me seemed to figure it out — or at least they said they did as they were walking out.) The top-notch cast — which also includes Jeff Daniels, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, and my old high school chum David Harbour — elevates the material, making what could have been a more conventional film that much more entertaining. Is SoP going to be remembered at year's end as one of the best films? No. But it's a solidly entertaining two hours that's worth seeing. I'm giving it a strong B.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Goodnight, Mom

The thing about taking a few days off is that it gives you a chance to catch up on life and the things you've been ignoring in recent days. So it was last night when I learned the sad news that Keith Olbermann's mother passed away last weekend (she had cancer). Aside from the passing itself and the cause of death, the timing was rather unfortunate since, as Keith made clear in his tribute to her the other night, she was a huge baseball fan and she passed away the day before the season began.

Anyway, regardless of how you feel about Keith, his show, or his politics, the tribute he aired to his mother earlier this week is worth watching, so I thought I'd share it here.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Happy Passover!


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Table for One

I didn't quite know what to have for dinner Monday night, but I knew one thing: I didn't want to cook. And because Passover was two days away and I had already put all my dishes through my dishwasher, and I had nothing better to do, and because Sunday was the one-year anniversary of the day I moved into my condo, I decided to go out to dinner. Yes, by myself. It's not the first time I've done this, but it's been a very long time since I've gone out and sat in a restaurant eating dinner by myself. It was time to do it again.

I decided to go to the Bertucci's at the Atrium, which I figured would be close, easy, and because it was a rainy Monday night, largely empty. And sure enough, it was. So I sat at my table, undisturbed, eating my rolls and my meal, drinking my beverage, and perhaps most importantly, catching up on a recent issue of Rolling Stone. I have to admit: It was really nice for a change. Sure, I could have gone somewhere a little nicer than Bertucci's, but this was just what I was looking for. I was able to eat and read, and no one was rushing me to finish up or hounding me to order more, and when I was done, there were no dishes to clean up or anything. I had a nice waitress, and I gave her a nice tip because she treated me well, and I was not embarrassed by the situation in the least.

Yeah, I really kind of enjoyed going out by myself. I'm not going to make a habit of it, but maybe I'll have to do it more often.

Labels: ,

Wake-Up Call

Some people call it radio karma. Others chalk it up to an awful playlist. Me? I say Kiss 108 is trying to teach me a lesson, and I'm sure of it. Monday morning when my alarm went off, I hit snooze like I always do, and then I repeated it a second time. And when it went off the fourth time, I considered getting up. After all, I had plenty to do at work and could have used the extra half-hour or so. But did I? No. I decided I wanted nine more minutes, so I hit snooze again. And then, when the alarm went off nine minutes later, what song was playing? Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." At the present time, there is no artist on the radio that I hate more than Lady Gaga, so I hit snooze again. After all, who wants to get up to a song they don't like? That'll ruin your whole day.

So I slept some more. Nine minutes later, when the alarm went off again, what was playing? Britney Spears' "Circus," another song I find absolutely annoying. So yes, I hit snooze again. And then, nine minutes later, what was playing? My least favorite song right now, Flo Rida's "Right Round." It was already a half hour after I was going to get up, but I just couldn't get up then. And nine minutes after that, when the alarm went off again, what was playing? Actually, nothing. It was all static. But that was better than the alternative, so I got up. Finally. Lesson learned. (Or was it?) Next time, I'll get up when I'm supposed to.

And it probably should be noted that the song playing when I should have woken up was Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours," which, of course, I love.

Oh, but was that it? No way. I listened to Matty in the Morning for nearly my entire drive into work, laughing along with Matty, Billy, Lisa, Jim, and the gang, and right as I'm turning the corner into my parking lot, what song comes on? That's right: "Poker Face." Again. So suffice it to say, Kiss 108, by playing my least favorite songs at exactly the wrong times, taught me that I really need to time my mornings a bit better.


Monday, April 06, 2009

A Wii for Mii

After leaving Abby's house on Sunday, I stopped off to visit my other little buddies, Sam and Ilana. They're seven and four years old, respectively, and great fun to hang out with. On this particular day, they were anxious for me to play with them on their Wii, so I obliged. Believe it or not, I'd never played on a Wii before, which was a problem because these two were pros — especially Sam, who booted up Wii Sports and challenged me to a match on Wii Tennis. Well, before I knew it, Sam had beaten me three games to one. The kid really was good!

So we moved on, and the three of us played some Wii Bowling. Fortunately, I got the hang of this game early on, and I ended up "rolling" three or four strikes and a few spares. Suffice it to say, I beat my two younger friends quite easily — though Ilana kept things close in the final frames. (And yes, remember — she's four years old.) Then we did as planned, and the first- and second-place finishers competed in a Tennis rematch. This time I was more comfortable, and I beat Ilana three games to two — after a few deuces.

After I beat Ilana, though, I saw the look on her face, and I realized something: I was having too much fun, and my competitiveness was getting the best of me. Duh. You're supposed to let the kids win! Who doesn't know that? So we went outside, and Sam and I played a game of one-on-one basketball, followed by a game of Horse. Yes, I let Sam win both games — though I did make it interesting and didn't go down without a fight both times.

It was all in good fun, of course, no egos were bruised, and both kids definitely enjoyed my playing with them (though I'm not sure how much their parents enjoyed my riling the kids up). And, like on South Park, I had to admit that I'd learned a valuable lesson: I really really really really really need to get myself a Wii. I had a damned lot of fun playing those games, and now I'm sort of anxious to polish my Tennis skills — not to mention my skills on other games. After all, I definitely have the TV for it. So yeah, I need to get Mii a Wii real soon. (Oh yeah, and I need to let the kids win next time too.)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

There's a Name for That

I was home in New York this weekend because 11 months after she was born, Abby finally had her Naming, where she received her Hebrew name. (Usually this happens much sooner after a baby's birth.) It was also a significant weekend for me because for the first time since Abby was born, I slept overnight at my sister and brother-in-law's house, which was a lot of fun — even at 6:15 on Saturday morning, when I woke up early to greet Abby. It was also amusing being there Saturday night when she spent about an hour babbling in her crib, telling her best bud, Quackers (a stuffed duck), all about her day, and wouldn't go to sleep. Ahhh ... babies. Abby's still so great, and she and I just have a really special relationship. She always remembers me, and lights up when she sees me. I am one of the few people, it seems, who can consistently make her smile and laugh. And then there are the quiet times when I just sit there holding her, and she just relaxes without fidgeting. It's adorable, and it excites me to no end. And of course, that's partly why I take so many pictures of Abby when I see her. So yes, I thought I'd share this weekend's collection. Enjoy.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 02, 2009

He's Baaaaaack

If you enjoyed Borat, then by all means watch the trailer for Sacha Baron Cohen's latest film, Bruno. Just be careful: This is NSFW.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Same Cast, Shorter Title

There were three movies in the The Fast and the Furious series, but to really amp up the testosterone — not to mention the fast-ness and furiosity — something just had to change. So, the series got a reboot and now we have Fast & Furious, a car culture film starring the same cast as the first film, but without all those pesky The's in the title. (The 'and' also became an ampersand.)

What's the new movie about? Well, plot, schmot. There's drugs, money, revenge, and, um, fast cars. Do you really need to know more? There are a few good car chases, some hot women (including the smokin' Jordana Brewster), some skanky women too, some bad dialogue, more car chases ... and that's about it. Oh, yeah, and if you're into that kind of thing, plenty of big, muscled Vin Diesel to distract you. F&F isn't bad, but the bar's not exactly high here. This is a decent dumb fun movie, and it could have been a lot worse. So I'm giving F&F a C+.