31 October 2006

Happy Halloween

To Kill a Mockingbird, Toilet Paper and Post-Its

James and I have officially become regional theatre enthusiasts after seeing "To Kill a Mockingbird" at the Company Theatre in Norwell. It was much better than the production I saw in Boston a few years ago. In fact, it was so good, I feel compelled to become a member of the theatre and sell raffle tickets for cured meat outside of Hannaford's.

Still, the best part of the evening was revisiting Harper Lee's book, which is inarguably one of the best books ever written. It's been required reading in schools for so many years, I'm surprised it has not changed the world. But after several post-cocktails at 53 South, we've come to the conclusion that it's an "out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing." I think we need to condense the book into digestible, in-your-face chunks of wisdom -- decorative Post-Its, word of the day turlette paper, etc. -- so we can enjoy daily reminders of the world according to Atticus Finch -- a world where good and evil coexist but where putting yourself in someone else's shoes before offering up judgment makes all the difference. Too often, human nature in the real world involves the unmitigated trashing of someone else's perspective -- I'm not just talking about other people's politics or idealogy, but other people's parenting styles, their opinions on pop culture, their grammar, or even their choice of lipgloss. Instead, "self awareness" is often projected outward:"Whatever is wrong with you only makes me look better. " Finch's philosophy: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Daily affirmations like these may not bring about the demise of evil, but maybe they could -- at the very least -- bring about the demise of pettiness.

27 October 2006


KT and her overall fabulousness took the Chicago Marathon by storm last weekend -- and managed to look like THIS at the finish line. No, she did not pull a Rosie Ruiz or pop into the loo at the Westin to freshen up -- this is just how KT rolls. Congratulations on your finish, hot mama!

Dinner Club *CTRL ALT DEL* Suppah Club

Jess challenged Suppah Club's unstodgy tradition last night at Asian C, kick-starting a discussion about health insurance providers over a boat o' sushi. She proceeded to refer to our monthly event as "Dinner Club" -- a thinly-veiled attempt to make Suppah Club a swishier affair.

We hit "ctrl alt delete" and rebooted Suppah Club to its native form.

Back to status quo: Goy thought she detected a hint of Midori in her Cosmo and eyed the bartender suspiciously while passing her drink around for inspection. Paige got a splinter from one of her chopsticks, prompting a tiny table triage overseen by LPD (WMD was an EMT after all) CameOH regaled us with a strange occurance in her office, one that was undoubtedly sparked by her near-seat experience with Barack Obama on a Boston-bound plane last week.

To Auntie being back on the booze. To photos of Baby Jack in circulation. To the Dell'Olios' beautiful new home in Norwell (more on that later). These are the reasons that this was the most well-attended, most celebrated Suppah Club since its inception in Feb '05.

And Cameo is delighted to be OFF Suppah Club probation.

"Shiraaaaaaz. Shiraaaaaz."
PROPS to Goy for putting it all together.

24 October 2006

Auntie's & Bags' Wild Night with Toiletries from Brooks

Bags said: Celine and I were having a good laugh the other night at one of the truly lighter moments of being new parents. Jack's been a little bound up with all of this iron rich Similac formula that he's been downing (like he's on a bender.) Needing a little help with his problem, Auntie asked me to stop off at Brooks Pharmacy to find a solution.

So here I am coming down the aisle with a large bottle of suppositories, latex gloves, two large tubes of Vaseline, two aerosol cans of bathroom spray, and a box of hypo-allergenic wipes. Getting to the counter the old biddy behind the cash register gave me a bewildered look, to which I responded, "You should see the night that me and my wife have on tap."

23 October 2006

Running with the Pumpkins

(Paulie takes a corner in the pumpkin patch a little too quickly as LPD cheers him on: "Wooo!")

While it was a giant clusterfuck, the Life is Good Pumpkin Festival was still a great success on many levels. It was a little touch and go in the beginning as LPD, Caroline, Paulie and I braved the throngs of people on Boston Common who lacked spatial awareness (aka meanderthals). The crowds created such long looping lines at all of the food vendors that poor Auntie Peete couldn't even score an ounce of butternut squash bisque without devoting an hour to the pursuit (and she's so not a butternut). We thought about bagging the festival and popping into The Sevens for some pints of Octoberfest (choco-milk for the kids, of course). Instead, we grabbed some snacks and drinks at Delucas and then found our groove: We planted it on a grassy knoll next to one of the more accessible jack-o-lantern patches in which the kids could run amok. And all was well. The Cyrs showed up and SAC put it all into perspective: “It wouldn’t be a 'festival' if it was just us.” Duly noted, SAC.

Ben, Cam, Paulie and Caroline were now running in the patch. Strangers and several media outlets photographed them as they frolicked among the thousands of jack-o-lanterns.

BTW: This whole festival was built around smashing the world record for the number of lit jack-o-lanterns in one place at one time. And with 30, 128 lit pumpkins, they were successful in breaking the old record of 28,952 pumpkins set by Keene, NH in 2003. We didn't stick around to see the lighting or wait for the results. The babies were getting belligerent and, as LPD noted, all those blazing pumpkins probably wouldn't "smell too good"

There was a flurry of emails exchanged on this topic earlier this week where we discussed -- with much enthusiasm -- the jack-o-lantern record and face painting tents at the festival. Cameo (aka Di Obama) took a few steps back and noted how drastically times have changed. Was our enthusiasm for such an event quaint or just sad? It's most likely the latter. The fact that we enjoyed ourselves, however, calls for a few new adjectives.

22 October 2006

All Along 53

We had yet another fantastic dinner at 53 South on Friday, where over a bowl of loudmouth soup (aka Grey Goose martini), James and I discussed ways to rehabilitate our foul-mouthed children. After dinner, we learned that the other Kate and James were just down the route having dinner at Asian C with a posse of street thugs from Harvest Lane. Never too shy to gatecrash, James and I bumrushed Asian C with so much fanfare, we nearly destroyed Katie's impeccable rep as an upstanding neighborhood citizen. But she seemed perfectly ok with it. We tossed back some pinot grigio and repeatedly toasted James N's new job at a company so cool that it's earned its own verb. All of this and we were still home before midnight.

"Go Google yourself."

20 October 2006

Just Because...

It's Friday.

(Or perhaps it's a premonition of T-Bag's bachelor party this weekend.)

19 October 2006

He Doesn't Look a Thing Like Jesus...

It's a line from the song "When you were Young" by The Killers that I blare in my car whenever it comes on -- sometimes at the request of Paulie. "Mom -- Louder!" I didn't think Caroline was too fond of it because she usually complains that "it is too noisy in this car right now" whenever I turn it up. Therefore, I was taken aback when she began yelling out -- "HE DOESN'T LOOK A THING LIKE JESUS" -- at random times throughout the day, most often when we're in a crowded public place full of people who are unfamiliar with The Killers. Today's outburst was at the Assinippi General Store, a place where we are already on probation after Paulie cut a swath of destruction through the store earlier this year. But these outbursts are likely more about my behavior than anything else. I really have to reign in some of my bad habits and language.

For instance, I suspect this particular lyric is irresistable to Caroline because it contains the word Jesus -- a word that is on her no-say list. She was spoken to sharply a few months ago after yelling out "Jesus Christ, Paulie!" for no apparent reason at the library. She also got in trouble the other day for saying, "Where are my fucking shoes?" All the while, I'm ashamed of my own hyprocrisy, knowing full well that I am likely fostering her swearing while trying to put an end to it. Still, neither Jamie nor I know how to put an end to Caroline's and Paul's nightly ritual: After they put their pajamas on, they jump on Caroline's bed and proceed to yell out all of the words they are not supposed to say. “Shit!” “Fuck!” “Jesus!” "Damnit!" etc. We’re great parents.

Disaster Whoredom

I just finished watching "East Coast Tsunami" on the History Channel. The show is part of a whole series of potentially apocalyptic disasters that I discovered while trying to ween myself off MSNBC and CNN these past few weeks. The whole point of shunning the news at night was to curb my anxiety in hopes of fetching a decent night of sleep. Instead, I've tread into the even more angst-ridden realm of disaster whoredom.

MegaDisasters recreates historical disasters -- natural or man-made -- in modern times and locations to see how today's society would cope with such destruction. Accompanying state-of-the-art computer animation of the would-be devastation, a foreboding voice warns that we're overdue for any one of these biblical disasters -- floods, storms, earthquakes, etc. -- and that it's only a matter of time before we face them down. The narrator -- as if he were reading the CNBC business report - tells us that an F5 tornado will one day hit a major east coast city and all inhabitants will either perish or be maimed in the accompanying shitstorm of sharp glass, concrete and debris.

Aside from the "F5 Tornado" and "East Coast Tsunami" due to roll ashore any day now, other episodes include "Earthquake in the Heartland," "Yellowstone Eruption," and my personal favorite -- "Asteroid Apocalypse" which details what would happen if a mile-wide asteroid hit Los Angeles.

I've also got a season pass to the National Geographic Channel's "Seconds from Disaster " -- another upbeat show that opens with the sober, baritone voiceover: "One moment, everything appears to be normal. Seconds later, an unimaginable disaster. How could this happen?"

Using computer animation and archival footage, the show deconstructs -- moment-by moment -- the chain of events leading up to the world's most notorious disasters. It is a festival of runway collisions, train derailments, tunnel infernos and, of course, it wouldn't be a party without 9/11, the Columbia Disaster and Chernobyl.

Last month, my biggest fear when leaving my house was that a rabid raccoon might leap out of the bushes and latch onto my ankle. Today, I fully expect a doomed 727 with hydraulic problems and massive engine failure to crash into my house.

16 October 2006

Random Quizzilla

1.. Name a song on the radio right now that you know by heart.
Definitely How to Save a Life by The Fray -- and purely through osmosis. I think this song is faintly audible virtually anywhere in the world. It is like a stalker. I hear it constantly -- on the radio, in promos for Grey's Anatomy and for some reason, whenever I'm at Hannaford's. This quizzilla question inspired me to look up the lyrics, because while I know them by heart, I have never really processed them. To me, the song is about a missed or squandered opportunity to make something happen. Faced with a chance, you are suddenly paralyzed -- maybe by fear or self preservation or sheer cluelessness -- and have no idea what to say or do, no idea how to save someone or let someone know how to save you. I think everyone can relate to that. Another song that has kind of snuck up on me is Sundress by Ben Kweller -- great little song about trying to revive an otherwise great relationship that's in a rut.

2. Name something about somebody close to you that nobody else might know.
James does a spot on Meredith Grey impression. He hates the show but somehow perfectly channels Ellen Pompeo. The impression is not as eerie as Mikey Carter's Katherine Hepburn impersonation but it's equally as entertaining. Good luck trying to get him to do it, however. You may have to get him very, very drunk.

3. What was the last beverage you drank out of a glass bottle?
I don't drink many beverages out of glass bottles so I'm sure it must have been a Corona or a Nantucket Nectars Cran Juice.

4. Do you like or dislike change (as in coins)?
I have a love/hate/mostly hate relationship with 'the change.' HATE: It piles up in my bag and my car * Paulie likes to put quarters in his mouth * Too many nickels, not enough dimes * One time I chucked a handful of change into a trash receptacle at a Dunkin ' Donuts drive-thru. LOVE: An abundance of quarters for obscure metered parking spots on Columbus Avenue.

5. Share a quote you like for whatever reason: "Fools and the wise are equally as harmless. It is the half fools and the half wise who are dangerous." - Goethe.

13 October 2006

The Daily Show Effect

I KNEW IT! Recent studies have found that viewers of The Daily Show and other "fake news" programs are not cynical and disengaged, but informed and savvy. In many ways, this is common sense: In order to "get" satire, you have to have a decent understanding of the material being parodied, right?

- In a May 2006 study entitled "The Daily Show Effect," two political science professors from East Carolina University found that while college-age viewers of Stewart's show may be cynical about politics, they were nonetheless better informed and more confident in their ability to understand politics than viewers of traditional news media.

- Mary Zeiss Stange, a professor at Skidmore College, wrote a piece for USA Today last month that argued that the "Daily Show Effect" is not so much about cynicism as it is about critical analysis. "Based on my experience with them, I can attest that the current college-age generation is generally, and increasingly, media savvy when it comes to critically 'consuming' the news," she said. "I would further argue that this is more so because of shows such as Stewart's, The Colbert Report, and Web sites such as that of the The Onion newspaper."

In fact, the Daily Show generation is not only apt to be more concerned about current events, says Zeiss Stange, but also more likely to be spurred to do something with that concern. "In other words, Stewart's watchers could actually become more active voters," she said.

Her notions are shored up by a 2004 election survey from the non-partisan Annenberg Public Policy Center that found Daily Show viewers to be better informed about campaign issues than consumers of other late-night television programs, newspapers, network news, or cable news

I KNEW IT. The viewers of fake news -- because they understand the real news -- see through all the "truthiness" and talking points floating around out there. For those who don't watch The Colbert Report (which is a parody of The O'Reilly Factor), truthiness is "what you want the facts to be, as opposed to what the facts actually are; it's what you feel is the truth as opposed to what the truth actually is."

Truthiness is pervasive at places like Fox News and on almost all syndicated talk radio shows that subscribe to the notion that if you say something loudly enough and repeat it often enough, people will believe it -- even when it is completely untrue.

For instance, Delusional Phone Sex Enthusiast and Wicked Big Narcissicist Bill O'Reilly has repeatedly called viewers of The Daily Show "stoned slackers" and "dopey kids" who "don't know what's going on in the world." However, Nielsen Media Research shows that Stewart's viewers are not only smarter, but more educated than O'Reilly's. Daily Show viewers are 78 percent more likely than the average adult to have four or more years of college education, while O'Reilly's audience is only 24 percent more likely to have that much schooling.

O'Reilly may really believe that he is relevant and important but his audience is -- in fact -- comprised of old & senile men who wear their pants too high. However, short term memory is required of his bible-thumping public because bible thumpers tend to get outraged over dirty sex. Two years ago, the bleedingly self-righteous O'Reilly paid $10 million to a 31-year-old Fox staffer to keep her from going public with phone recordings of him telling her she had "spectacular boobs" and that he wanted to "soap them up with his loofah mitts." After the big pay-off, he took zero accountability. Instead, he just blamed the non-loofah mitt-wearing democrats. It's happening again now with the Foley/Page scandal. Everyone's blaming the democrats for their own twisted horniness.

But you have to feel sorry for these repressed white guys. They are probably not shirking responsibilty out of fear or malice or even politics but sexual frustration. From what I can see, these morally superior men love dirty sex but nobody wants to have dirty sex with them.

That said, it's getting harder to tell the difference between a fictional Daily Show skit and an actual cable news segment. The line has been blurred, which is why we're seeing Stewart/Colbert '08 t-shirts and why Keith Olbermann, through his inspiring special comment segments, is becoming the Edward R. Murrow of cable news -- even though his show, "Countdown," is considered more of an entertainment program. These guys are smarter and much more grounded and sane than the others. When asked about the popularity of the Stewart/Colbert '08 shirts, Jon Stewart said it was "sad. " "Nothing says I am ashamed of you, my government, more than a Stewart/Colbert t-shirt," he said. Yet more evidence that he gets it.

10 October 2006

Jon Stewart @ Wang Center

Thanks to one of WMD's and Peete's pals, Annie and I were in the house at the Wang Center last weekend, in an audience that Jon Stewart addressed as "my poor sweet little blue staters...you godless sodomites." Fellow godless sodomites Cameo and the Brownman were also present and in the fray.

Stewart covered all of the bases, commenting on everything from the Middle East to gay marriage. For instance, Stewart said he was against gay marriage at first because he didn't want to have to leave his wife for a dude: "I assumed gay marriage was going to be mandatory because why would anyone else care." He discussed the "bizarre wardrobe idiosyncrasies" of religion: "The Pope is just one hat choice away from being the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan." It wasn't all politics, however. Stewart also recreated his two-year-old son's very Ben Cyr-ish dance moves that he busted on a Manhattan street after correctly identifying a tiger. He ended the show with a hilarious play-by-play about his dog having gastrointestinal issues in the middle of the night.

ALL of it was funny and much of it was inspiring.

While I've always liked Jon Stewart, I became a true devotee after watching him verbally disembowel Tucker Carlson on CNN in 2004. You know Tucker Carlson -- that pasty, bowtie-wearing frat boy who looks a little -- how you say -- date-rapey? Stewart chastised Carlson and his show "Crossfire" for doing a disservice to public discourse by participating in "partisan hackery." When Carlson tried to compare his interviewing style with that of Stewart's, Stewart said, "The lead in to my show is puppets making crank calls. You're on CNN. What's the matter with you?" Then he called Tucker a dick. Awesome. Clearly, CNN agreed with Stewart as "Crossfire" was cancelled shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, Tucker has since landed at MSNBC. While he's lost his bowtie and has made his acquaintance with a tanning booth, he's still a total dick.

Speaking of which, some Harvard grad wrote an op-ed in the Globe earlier this year about how Jon Stewart is harmful because he turns away smart, independent thinkers from a life in politics by making government seem uncool and clownish. (I would argue that the government makes itself appear uncool and clownish and Stewart is merely pointing this out) I don't know if the guy who wrote the op-ed is completely humorless or has no sense of irony but he certainly doesn't get it. He contends that young people who watch "The Daily Show" are more likely to shun public life and go work in the private sector. However, he provides no evidence, statistics or sources to support his hypothesis aside from a fictional composite example. Speaking for myself -- although I am certainly not a "young person" -- watching shows like "The Daily Show" or "The Colbert Report" has not made me care less about the world. Watching these shows has never given me the urge to go work at Goldman Sachs, nor has it given me the urge to go into politics. But that's because neither of these occupations is in my blood. What really makes me feel turned off and completely powerless is the actual. real. news. The real news makes me want to smoke a brick of hash and apologize to my kids for bringing them into this mess. I credit people like Jon Stewart for rousing me from my apathy. Jon Stewart has not made politics and government repulsive to me, but palatable. He turned me into a voter. He did not do this with scare tactics or condescension, but by being engaging, funny and intelligent, and often through clips like this one.

04 October 2006

Sad Cell

It’s official. I am O-L-D. My birthday isn’t until next month but I reached an even more disturbing benchmark the other night while having a drink and app with my brother.

My cell phone rang so I pulled up its crooked antenna and flipped it open. I couldn’t hear whose voice was on the other end because it was drowned out by hysterical laughter. Paul was laughing and pointing…at my phone. Laughing at the curve of the antenna, the fact that it even had a retractable antenna, laughing at its pathetic polyphonic ring tone and good God look at the size of that thing…it’s huge!

Paul took his cell phone out of his pocket. It was a sleek, silver Razr, the size of a stick of Trident gum. Its old school ring tone was perfectly ironic and digital. It takes pictures, is fully Web enabled and will do pretty much everything except mix you a martini and pick up after your dog.

"You need to do something about that," said Paul, still laughing and pointing.

The music hasn’t gotten too loud and I haven’t abandoned all sense of fashion yet but I have reached the first milestone. Apparently the cell phone is the first thing to go.

02 October 2006

Monday Quizzilla

1) Measured in minutes, how much exercise do you get each day?
I try to get out for a 45-minute walk every night. I used to walk back into the sprawling neighborhoods behind mine, through an active adult community and then back again. That is, until some fear-mongering senior citizen informed me that there was a coyote den in the woods back there and that I should "take heed" when walking at night. She may as well have told me there was a serial rapist on the loose. So now, I stay closer to home and walk "the loop" around my neighborhood five times. There have been rumors of sidewalks coming to the main roads so I may be able to venture off this hamster wheel in due time.

2) Name one chore you really don’t mind doing?
Weeding the garden.

3) If someone made a statue of you, in what pose would you want it to be?
I believe LPD has the photo. It is of me, Peete and P.G. We're running along the water's edge in Cancun at night. We are in the moonlight, little pointy silhouettes with flailing limbs. I don't know if was pure joy or manic intoxication, but in that moment, we captured the perfect pose of "happy and free." I'd love to have that immortalized in sculpture.

4) Add up your phone number and area code, what is the sum?

5) If you were a celebrity, what would you do as a publicity stunt?
Fake my own death, disappear for a year and then show up at a movie premiere.