27 December 2007

Christmas Quarantine

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.

We are slowly coming out of quarantine after I unintentionally tempted the dark forces a few weeks ago with a foolish declaration: "I never get sick." I may as well have gotten down on all fours and licked the floor at Target. Needless to say, the fates turned me into Typhoid Mary. If you’ve gotten "the sickness" that's going around, you know what I’m talking about. A violent 24 hour bug followed by a day of instense vertigo. I recovered last week, but James spent the whole of Christmas day fighting vertigo beneath an afghan. My mother and brother were afflicted as well so we had to postpone Christmas dinner until Sunday. Luckily, we were able to enjoy the days leading up to the holiday. Nic and I took the girls to see the Bells of Boston at Faneuil Hall, followed by ice cream (kids) and irish coffees (mamas) at the Kinsale. The family enjoyed a festive Christmas Eve at Amy’s, where the wee brown ones tracked Mr. Clause on Norad Santa, with Caroline reporting his global position every time the site was reloaded. “He’s in Argentina!” “He’s in Newfoundland” Once he crossed the border from Canada, however, the anxiety began to mount. They believed Santa was closing in on the South Shore and would skip the house if they weren’t home. I’ve never (never!) seen them get their coats on so quickly. On the ride home, the blinking red light from a plane flashed across the sky in front of us. Rudolph. They lost their minds. I seriously thought Paulie might faint. When we arrived home, we scattered some reindeer food on the lawn and tried to get everyone to simmer down. James was already starting to go downhill. By Christmas morning, I had to take on the role of dad, opening boxes, cursing twist ties and overpackaging, setting up train sets and race tracks, making three separate battery runs to Assinippi. By mid-day, after sitting among beeping Leapsters, naked dolls, Thomas trains and overstimulated kids, I was starting to go a little stir crazy. I pondered pouring myself a Ketel One and cranberry and ordering up some Asian C. I also had a curious urge to go online and edit Wikipedia. Instead, I made a fourth trip to Assinippi and bought a not-so prime rib and made a horseradish-encrusted roast with green beans. I’d seen the recipe on the Today show earlier in the day and hadn't been able to stop thinking about it. I topped it off with a glass of red and some Christmas cookies…and Christmas Day took a turn. All in all, the kids had a stellar day and that’s really where the joy in this holiday comes from anyway.

Enjoy some photos…

19 December 2007

Holiday Quizzilla

1)Do you prefer to do your Christmas shopping on or offline?
I do the majority online. I have a deep-seated phobia of malls that is pre-Internet so it's a very freeing experience. I just can't handle crowds. Tuesday morning, there were lines to get into some stores at Derby Street. I simply don’t have the patience or fortitude to stand in line to save $3 on a pair of Cinderella pajamas, especially when Toys R Us and Amazon have free shipping all season long.

2) What is at the top of your Christmas list this year?
Same as every year: Restaurant gift cards so we can dine out a lot. And world peace. Let's just hope that James - in one of his anti-clutter tornadoes - doesn't "accidentally" toss out the GCs. (There are no accidents) Over the past two holiday seasons, he's thrown out more than $300 worth of gift cards to Abe & Louies, Capital Grille, and others. I half expect to walk in and find him burning the Christmas cards we've received in the fireplace, along with a bucket of cash.

3) What are some of your favorite “modern” Christmas songs?
The short list: "Fairytale of New York" – Kirsty MacColl/Pogues, "Christmas, Baby Please Come Home" - U2, "Do they know it’s Christmas" - Bandaid, "Christmas in Boston" - Jim Melody, "Winter Wonderland"- Eurythmics, "I Believe in You" - Sinead O'Connor, and though I hate to admit it, I love Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas."

4) Name one of your favorite Christmas gifts from childhood.
A Snoopy Telephone when I was 11, which is ironic since I’ve always hated talking on the phone, even back then.

5) Have you ever worked a holiday shift at a retail store or restaurant? How was it?
Yes. I hostessed at a restaurant and worked at Filene’s for a few weeks. It was bloody frickin hell.

13 December 2007

The Madness of Hannaford

It’s not even noon yet and Hannaford is already running low on milk and bread. It’s crazy up there. People are in a full-on collective panic buy, stocking up, it would seem, for a nuclear holocaust. I spotted a woman with three cases of grapefruit in her cart, hellbent on heading off the hardship of going without fresh fruit for a few hours. It's just snow. The roads will be passable. The stores will be open for business. After all, there's a huge Nor’easter barreling up the coast -- twice as big as tonight's predicted storm --that's due to hit this weekend. It’s going to get even crazier. For a moment, I thought, "Wow. I'd better pick up some milk and bread before it's gone." But then I said screw it and bought some NY strip steaks and a mini-Carvel ice cream cake instead. Besides, who doesn’t have a 12-hour supply of food in their homes? And even if you don't, it is no cause for panic buying. Get some take out from Pacinis. Order a West End pizza pie. Asian C will be delivering as well.

11 December 2007


I'm still in recovery from last weekend's party. As usual, in trying to talk to everyone, I really didn’t talk to anyone, but I'm assuming everyone had as much fun as we did. It was impossible not to be stirred by the high spirits the come from having so many good people packed into a small space. Not to mention our dial-in special guest -- EPB -- from Brisbane. And I swore I was hallucinating when I saw Mikey Carter in my kitchen. Being so accustomed to drinking outdoors --at the Pines -- most of the Weymouth guys tend to spend the night on the back porch clustered around the heat lamp and keg.

Then there was the music: Random iTunes DJs manning the laptop. Liz playing the entire Vince Guaraldi catalog on the piano, Jim Melody stopping by to play his holiday hit “Christmas in Boston." And as it goes every year, one minute it's 10:30 p.m., the next minute you look at the clock and it's 2:30 a.m. and T-Bag and Norty are ripping it up with some GNR in an acoustic jam. (that gets better every year --thanks, guys).

So take a peep at some party pix in this obligatory CLR slideshow. A special thanks to Code Red for taking up the torch as the resident photog. I'm usually taking the photos so I'm rarely in them. Now, unfortunately, I'm in almost all of them --looking progressively rough as the night wears on -- even though I steered clear of the Abominable Snow Monster martinis. Good times, all!

05 December 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) What is your current state of mind?

2) When was the last time you felt panic?
Today -- when I turned on the news and learned of the massive explosion by the LNG tanks last night. I was instantly seized by panic thinking of my people in EB and Chelsea: my parents, Code Red and Baron, JAL and Mike. I thought my mother’s long-time prediction had finally come true: “One day, some idiot is going to crash into those tanks and blow us all to smithereens.” That prediction, coupled with all of the mega disaster scenarios set forth by Homeland Security and the History Channel, only fueled my anxiety. “Everything within a five mile radius would be incinerated.” Yikes.

Luckily, the 7 News banner was overly alarmist as usual. It wasn’t the tanks that exploded, but a tanker truck. It was still pretty bad, though. The explosion created a canal of fire down Main Street in Everett. Several homes caught fire and more than 20 cars exploded in succession, which one onlooker described as “the goddamn apocalypse coming down the street.” Nobody was hurt but many people had to flee their homes in 20 degree temperatures in their PJs. The incident has snarled traffic all day and many of the news stations have preempted scheduled shows with breaking news. It's a giant story.

But when I talked to my father this morning, he had a less dramatic take. When I asked him if he’d heard the explosions, he said, “Yeah, I heard them. I figured it was a plane or some gunshots, you never know around here. Whatever -- it wasn’t enough to get me out of bed.”

3) On a scale of 1-10, how much do you enjoy discussing deep philosophical topics?
Definitely a 10. Although the topics need not be deep.

Last week, we spent hours pondering the reasons why people keep mistaking Code Red for another local red-headed spokesperson. We concluded that the only way the two women could ever appear similar would be if Code Red was drunk at noon and lifting up her skirt in front of the Coast Guard.

4) Did you get a flu shot this year. If not, do you plan to?
No and no. Only the kids. I don’t really get sick that often but the one year I got a flu shot, I had a season-long mung that was unshakeable.

5) Are you attending any upcoming holiday parties?
Aside from our own, not really. We do have “A Very Special Christmas Suppah Club” going down mid-month. This one will be in the afternoon so the old burds can enjoy an Ensure on the Rocks and be home in time for 60 Minutes.

03 December 2007

Herme, The Great Equalizer

Sometimes for less whiny conditions to prevail in a house with kids, we result to random threats and outrageous statements:

Nic: "I’m going to call the street sweeper!"

Billy Dee: “I’m going to put you in a box.”

WMD: “Every time you cry, a puppy dies.”

Around Christmas, however, we have an advantage. We can threaten that Santa is watching their every move and taking copious notes on their errant behavior. Still, they see Santa everywhere and take this notion of constant surveillance with a grain of salt. This year, we’ve taken it up a few notches with more specificity. Caroline: Every time you kick your brother, I'm calling Santa and asking him to subtract a present from your list. Kick. I guess you can kiss that Princess art easel goodbye. Kicking ceases. Paulie: Whiny voices attract the Abominable Snow Monster. Remember the oinking outside the cave? He can hear you when you talk in that voice. (For whatever reason, Paulie thinks the Snow Monster’s cave is at the Airport T station, so his arrival on the South Shore via intermodal transportation wouldn’t be entirely unheard of in his world). No more whiny voice.

Thus far, these tactics have been successful, but we're continually upping the ante.

For awhile, Paulie would only wear plaid shorts and his Tom Brady shirt. You could dress him in weather-appropriate clothing but inevitably, he’d sneak off upstairs and change back into this ensemble. We finally packed all of his shorts up and put them in the attic. He squawked like an irate bird for an hour. But then he adapted, digging out some Lightning McQueen summer pajamas and insisting on wearing only those. We put all of the summer PJs up in the attic. Another bird tantrum. But then he adusted again, deciding to just run around buck nucked. You'd get him dressed and then he’d strip down naked almost immediately. Any shot at discipline unraveled as we laughed and became increasingly inconsistent. Laughing, then yelling, then laughing again. In short, the worst kind of parents.

So we decided to take a more subtle approach and tap into his psyche.

James called Pete and asked him to call the house, pretending to be Herme, the wannabe elf dentist from Rudolph.

Paulie was worried yet exhilarated to be receiving a personal call from an elf. He listened intently as "Herme" informed him that he needs to keep his clothes on because Santa's getting angry. Paulie promised and then asked Herme if the Snow Monster was "still nice." Herme told him he was only nice to people who wear long pants and that he snacks on bare knees.

Needless to say, Paulie's kept his clothes on and has become obsessed with his fleece-lined jeans.
Since then, Herme has become the great equalizer, a true purveyor of peace in Jacksonland. Every time it’s getting loud in here, I dial the house phone from my cell. "I bet that's Herme." Oh no. They completely chill out, looking up and around like they live in a giant glass house. That's right. Herme can see everything. He's watching when Santa can't.

30 November 2007

A Dependable Stalker

"Hello? Good afternoon, miss." The voice sounded pleasant enough. I looked up from the kitchen island from where I was working on the computer and saw a man who looked like Ken Berry peeking through the front screen door. Typically, I don't even open the door to anyone over 12 unless I absolutely have to, and in those cases, I usually talk out the first floor window, over the shrubbery. But I was working a cross breeze this afternoon and the front door was open. I talked to him through the locked screen door. His name was Cliff, he worked for Dependable Cleaners (I saw the van in the driveway) and he was here to tell me about a new drop-off/delivery promotion they were running. I tried to head him off, saying I work at home and my wardrobe, consisting of yoga pants and fleece, was entirely machine washable. He was not dissuaded. This guy was old school, robotic and overly rehearsed, part Willy Loman, part Orlando Jones selling magazine subscriptions in "Office Space." He never strayed from the script, although he did appear genuinely offended when I told him I used Dryel.

Long story short, he held up a Dependable Cleaners nylon laundry bag and told me to hold onto it. I could leave it at my side door on Tuesdays and Fridays if I had any drycleaning and the van would pick it up and drop it off. He then held up two coupons for $10 off the first two orders. There was neither a credit card number nor commitment required on our part. I still told him I really had no need for it either way. Undeterred, he asked if my husband would use the service. Doubtful, I said. He's been going to the same drycleaner in West Roxbury for years and is unlikely to switch as it's near the Middle Eastern bakery. "Well, why don't I just leave the bag and you can ask him," Cliff says. If neither of us want the service, we can just leave the bag with a note saying so. Fine fine fine. Give me the damn bag. I just wanted to get back to work.

Well, I should've never accepted the damn bag. I hung it up in the laundry room then immediately forgot about it. Then the calls started. The following Tuesday afternoon. Private name/Private number. It's Cliff. "Did you forget?" Forget what? "The driver said there was no bag at the side door." Oh, right. I had no drycleaning. "OK. Friday, then." I told him not to bother as I'd have nothing Friday either. This didn't matter. Like clockwork, every Tuesday and Friday, he calls and/or leaves messages. "You know, those coupons are going to expire if you don't use them" etc. Last week, he called at 9 p.m. and seemed angry when James answered the phone. "Can I speak to Kate?" "Who's calling?" "Is she there? "Who is this?" "Oh, never mind." Then he unceremoniously hung up. "You've got to go down there. Do you want me to go down there," James said. This was getting ridiculous. By now, this had been going on for weeks, yet each Tuesday or Friday, I was nevertheless forgetting to leave the bag with the Dear John letter to Dependable Cleaners by the side door. Mostly because in between these harrassing incidents, Dependable Cleaners was the furthest thing from my mind. Or maybe I was subconsiously gaslighting Cliff. For whatever reason, I seemed to forget about Cliff's calls almost immediately after, much like the initial screen door sales call.

That is until Cliff showed up at the house this week!!! Passive aggressive, palms up, shrugging. "Not one blouse? No Pantsuits?" (Pantsuits?) "Surely you must have some things that need drycleaning. You DO have Dryel in the house. Why do you buy Dryel if you don't have things that need drycleaning?" I almost chucked a hoodie at him to make him go away. I closed the door without a word. I'm heading down there this morning -- bag in hand, possibly swinging -- and telling Dependable Cleaners - and Cliff - in no uncertain terms, to frig off. If I go missing, you know who to look for.

27 November 2007

Leftovers with the Primeminister

This morning I was trying to stuff the scant remains of a 12 lb turkey into a full trash barrel outside when my thoughts began wandering. I stood in my barefeet thinking about what would happen if I just hurled the leftover turkey into the woods. Then I remembered Code Red's story about the mammoth turkey carcass she spotted on the streets of Chelsea last Friday. Someone had just tossed it out onto the sidewalk instead of disposing of it properly, sending the neighboring pooches, including Baron, into a collective conniption. If I threw this bad boy into the woods, Lord knows how many species of wild animals would descend upon the yard.

The phone rang. It was LPD. She was stuck in Route 3 traffic and her thoughts were wandering with regard to some leftovers as well -- musical ones. Apparently she's been playing "Pop Goes the Weasel" by 3rd Bass for Sweet Baby James and he's been digging it. For those unfamiliar, 3rd Bass -- MC Serch, Primeminister Pete Nice and DJ Richie Rich -- was an interracial rap act, popular in the early 90s, the antithesis of Vanilla Ice. With early 90s hip hop on the brain, a question popped into LPD's head like a squirrel tryin' to get a nut, 16 years later, on Route 3 by Babies R Us in Braintree.

"Remember we went to see that 3rd Bass concert at UMass," she asked.

Remember? Yes, of course I remember. An odder crew has never assembled for a show since: LPD and I, some gazelle-wearing Dorchester boys and gaggle of future jarheads of America made the pilgrimage together. It was a standout evening for more reasons than its mere unlikelihood.

"Why was there a press conference?"

I'd nearly forgotten. It was a strange event, one that we never questioned at the time. It was not the typical meet-and-greet that served as a prelude to shows on college campuses, but a very formal media event, like a debriefing after a Red Sox game or a political scandal. Journalists were barking out some serious questions at 3rd Bass. At this preshow gathering, there were no musical discussions or free swag but blistering discussions of 90s zeitgeist: the white appropriation of hip hop culture, the use of rap as a political vehicle, etc. LPD and I -- out of our element and giggling behind a blue student press pass -- decided to elevate the dialogue further. We also wanted to engage Pete Nice who had something of a Sean Penn thing going on.

I stood up, giddy from the slushy Bud Light in the car ride over, and smashed the intellectual glass ceiling: “Mr. Primeminister, what’s with all the Elvis references?"

Pete Nice turned serious and stood up from the table.

Oh my God. Why is he standing up? What is he doing!? LPD and I clutched each other's sleeves. A hush fell over the room as Pete Nice swung his trademarked pimped-out cane and busted into a very animated response:

“Yo, you know it’s like 'Yo, I’m Elvis with the words of wisdom,'” he rapped. Then he winked at us and slowly sat back down.


“Ok. Thank you, Primeminister, Thank you. hee hee.”

Pete Nice, elemental like uranium

"Seriously what was that all about?" LPD was still bewildered. I still had no answer. It was one bizarre evening in a decade that could launch 1000 whys on any given topic. Why were we hanging with those dudes? Why were we all wearing baseball hats? Why did Auntie run me over?
Maybe the "why" lies in a simple Latin phrase I've committed to memory: "Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit." Translation: "One day we will look back on these things and laugh." Which is exactly what we did this morning.

After LPD and I hung up, I did not chuck the turkey into the woods to deteriorate in relative obscurity like my old 3rd Bass CDs. Instead I downloaded "Derelicts of Dialect" off iTunes and relished the musical leftovers while tossing out the Thanksgiving ones.

Random: A Google search shows that Pete Nice is now a sports historian and documentary filmmaker. Good for you, Mr. Primeminister Sinister.

20 November 2007

Not Thankful for Thanksgiving Buzzkill

This article made me irrationally angry this morning. Today show nutritionist and diet editor Joy Bauer wants us to know that we fat slobs could consume up to 5,000 calories this Thanksgiving. If that's not bad enough, she provides a detailed gastrointestinal analysis of what consuming this many calories in one day does to your body. Wait, it gets worse, there’s a sidebar: Advice and recipes on how to cook an entire turkey dinner under 1,000 calories and a comprehensive calorie listing of typical Thanksgiving dishes. Did you know that there are 500 calories in two tiny mini quiches? I didn’t. Needless to say, I want all of this information about as much as I want to know what they put in hot dogs. It’s beyond buzzkill, it’s straight up mean. So, screw you, Joy. I’ve been good all year with the damn leafy greens and whole grain everything and multi-vitamin supplements. I plan to live a little.

That said, the following is the PU’s official response to Joy’s list of "helpful" suggestions:

1. Eat sensibly and lightly throughout the earlier part of the day.
Mini-quiches, proscuitto, shrimp cocktail, calzone. These are just the appetizers. According to your malevolent calorie counter, Joy, I might as well stuff a canned ham down the back of my pants right now and get it over with.

2. Hit the gym in the morning.
Right on, Joy. Then we’ll fly off to my parents’ house for dinner on the back of Pegasus.

3. Wear something fitted and fabulous. You’ll be less apt to overeat when there’s no room to expand.
This is just bad advice. You’re assuming snug clothing gives you willpower. In the face of chorizo stuffing and butternut squash and apple pie and turkey gravy, a ruched blouse will not save the day any more than good intentions. When the wine is flowing, you’re not thinking about the hangover. In turn, people will not be thinking about splitting their ill-fitting pants as they gorge themselves on pie. I’m busting out my old maternity jeans with the expandable waist band.

4. Splurge selectively.
That’s borderline oxymoronic. Sort of like your byline on this article, Joy. You seem hellbent on sucking the joy out of the entire holiday.

5. Send leftovers home with your guests (and if you’re a guest, resist taking leftovers from gracious hosts!)
We will not only be taking some leftovers home, we’re actually cooking our own turkey dinner with all the fixings here purely for the sandwiches! What do you think of that, you hag?

BTW, all in the Pointy Universe are invited to stop by Sat or Sun for a 2,500 calorie post-Thanksgiving sandwich!

18 November 2007

Baby Bags II: It's a Boy!

(Yo little brother)

If you are curiously hearing Nolan Thomas' 7-inch remix from V-66 in the background, there is a reason. It's in celebration of Jack's big brotherhood! Baby Bags II aka Daniel Joseph arrived last night at 10:33 p.m., weighing in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces, 19.5 inches long. He was scheduled to arrive via C on Tuesday but he's already proven himself an early bird, a trait he likely inherited from his dad. (Anyone who's received a text message from Bags at 4:14 a.m. can attest to this) All are doing well. Congratulations, Auntie, Bags & Jack. We love you all!

16 November 2007

Paulie Shorn II

Paulie walked downstairs and appeared to be suffering from what looked like an errant cowlick. Upon closer inspection, it was clear a chunk of his bangs had been lopped off. Evidence in the upstairs hallway, a clump of wavy brown hair, confirmed this fact. "Paulie, who cut your hair?" "Caroline." CAROLINE! "Isn't he handsome?" she replied. Apparently, she sat him down on a footstool, wrapped a towel around him and gave him a little trim, or more specifically, the Lloyd Christmas. I can't believe child scissors cut through those Britpop locks. It's the toddler equivalent of shaving off someone's eyebrows, absent of malice of course, and my digicam couldn't have picked a worse time to be busted. I found a way to comb it to make it less conspicuous. And even though Caroline's in trouble, she's right about one thing: He is handsome.

14 November 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) Did you have a pet as a child? If so, what kind and what was its name?

Yes. A miniature schnauzer, Muffin. Muffin facts: She was only affectionate to me and a "cold german bitch" (my mother's phrase) to mostly everyone else. She slept on a Star Wars pillow next to my bed *I named her Muffin because there were three other dogs in the neighborhood named Muffin (I was 7) * KW once fled my house in hysterics, claiming "that dog has shoulders!" * As she got older, Muffin accumulated all kinds of health problems. Cataracts. She'd bark at the dining room chairs at random. Whenever someone walked in the house, she'd bark at the fridge. Gingivitis. She eventually lost all her teeth except for one fang that jutted out the left side of her mouth. She also had "scratch and sniff" skin condition: Whenever she scratched herself, she released something foul into the air. Still, we loved her, perhaps even more so. She lived to be 16 years old and is memorialized annually on Goy's birthday. This year, I wished Goy a happy 38th birthday and a happy 15th anniversary of Muffin's death. (* This tradition was trumped by a “Happy Birthday, my cat has cancer” card sent to me many years ago -- not from Goy)

2) What does the color purple make you think of?

Prince, but more specifically of an incident. One time, Jen W wore a purple blazer to work that was the shade most would associate with his Purpleness. A coworker, as he passed her in the hallway, unexpectedly yelled out -- quite loudly -- “SO WHEN YOU CALL UP THAT SHRINK IN BEVERLY HILLS…”

3) If you could choose to be in a TV commercial, what would you advertise?

It'd be a commercial for Fresh 'n Clean Dog Shampoo directed by Christopher Guest in the style of Best in Show. After Vito's near-fatal encounter at the dog groomers a few weeks ago, we've been bathing him ourselves. This shampoo leaves him smelling fresh as a daisy for days on end, and his nose wrinkle no longer smells like a cow. It's even curbed his massive shedding. A neighbor walked up to him yesterday and said, "Vito, something's different. Have you lost weight?" (He hasn't)

4) What year did you start using the Internet?

I became a regular user in 1995 but my first encounter with the Net was in 1994 when I was housesitting for my friend Dave and his cat. I spent the entire weekend drinking wine and chatting on AOL, getting into arguments, making outrageous claims, drunk with anonymity as much as vino. I didn't realize at the time, however, that I was doing all this chit-chatting under my friend's screenname. He ended up receiving so many bizarre emails in the following weeks that he had to open a new account and change his email address and screenname. (Still sorry, Dave.)

5) What food or drinks have you snuck into the movie theatre?

Granny smith apples, Ziploc bag of grape tomatoes, McDonalds, Charms Blow Pops, wine coolers, Dunkin' iced coffee.

12 November 2007

Scarlet Oak Serengeti

The Scarlet Oak Tavern is currently one of the most popular places on the South Shore and it's as tough to get a table on a Tuesday night as it is on a Friday. If you don’t have reservations or arrive after 4 p.m., you’re going to be standing around for a very long time. Still, many people try their luck in the bar where seating is first-come-first served. It's an honor system that nobody honors because, let's face it, people are hungry. Unfortunately, this has created an "every man for himself" kind of atmosphere in there. Regardless of how many times other patrons smile at you and say “excuse me,” beneath the polite exteriors are bloodthirsty predators, seething with resentment, jockeying for coveted tables and barstools and especially the half moon leather booths in the corners that accommodate up to six people.

This weekend, six burds crowded around a high top that barely accommodated our olives and focaccia, let alone wine glasses. Still, we were among the lucky ones. LPD noticed a couple at one of the half moon booths (spacehogs) was finishing up their dinners. She also noticed another couple standing next to them who’d noticed the very same thing. LPD, mama bear in full effect, walked over and brokered a deal: "Give us the booth, we’ll give you our table.” She pointed to the five of us, smushed together, but a pregnant Auntie -- in full-on mama stance with palms on the small of her back – likely sealed the deal. LPD somehow roped our waitress into the deal as well and within moments, we were passing our co-conspirators in a hand-slapping victory line and sliding into the booth.

Another group who’d been eyeing the booth began circling us like territorial wildebeests. Their faces smiled but their eyes were threatening us with steak knives. To the victors go the spoils. A round of turtlenecks! A bellydancer! A turkey sandwich in a blender! We dug into some Scarlet salads and steak tips and Auntie enjoyed her third meal of the evening, a side of squash that she couldn’t finish after we remarked it looked like a baby food.

The view from the booth was much different. People were getting louder and more animated and less able to perform fine motor skills. We realized that when you’re waiting so long to eat, and standing around drinking, it’s only a matter of time before you begin to sway. This scene played out in all around us but the ladies loo was something else entirely “It’s the Rocky Horror Picture Show in there.”

A posse of ladies, 50-somethings, completely pickled and achingly well groomed had taken over the restroom. They were hanging in there with their drinks, sneaking cigarettes and barking at each other from beneath the stalls. One woman stood at the sink holding a glass of red wine in one hand while furiously brushing her hair with the other. I walked up to wash my hands and noticed a tiny nest of hair had accumulated in the sink.

She looked down at me, swaying, wine spilling out over the sides of the glass.

“It’s crazy here tonight, huh?”
“Yes,” I said.

I don’t know what the ‘fuck’ retort was all about, but I slunk away without drying my hands because I was scared. I exited the ladies room where a very tan man with shocking white hair was leaning against the wall outside the door. He wore a skin tight red, white and blue parka and was holding a martini. He nodded his head up and down as women came and went: “Hi.. hi… hi…hi…hi…hi.”

Who said people watching is no good in the burbs?

Cameo noted the bathroom ladies will likely be us in 10 years. Either way, we will live to see another night at this Serengeti of the South Shore.

09 November 2007

Auntie's Dream Diary Returns

(Right on)

The arrival of Baby Bags Dos just 11 days away, Auntie's psychedelic dreams have returned in full force. And once again, they are oddly manifesting Red Sox-related themes.


"Last night she was the female Jacoby Ellsbury. She was called up by the Sox, put into the game and ended up having two hits. Don Orsillo and Remdawg were very vocal with her highlight reel play. I was supposedly jealous and seemed disinterested."

07 November 2007

The Writers' Strike: The Bad (for me), The Ugly (Eva Longoria), and The Good (for Nic)

BAD: LOST could be lost. The season premiere is scheduled for Feb 2008 but Michael Ausiello of TV Guide said today if the strike extends into the new year and beyond, there is a chance ABC may delay the new season until the fall. Or worse yet, Feb 2009. NO! It’s bad enough we insomniacs are watching "Awesome Pawsome" on Animal Planet instead of Letterman, but LOST! I can’t even go there in my head right now. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

UGLY: Mucho-overrated Eva Longoria crying on the picket line. There she was, carrying a pizza, crying for the fate of her hair and make up artists and how they could possibly lose their homes in the wake of the strike. I don't believe for a nanosecond that this woman cares about her underlings. This is a woman who was “livid" and "outraged" when she found one of her contractors squatting in her multimillion dollar Hollywood mansion during another super-extravagant renovation. We know what this is really about. She doesn't care if they lose their homes, she just doesn't want them showing up at hers with pup tents.

GOOD: Horrid reality shows arriving en masse. Normally, I would file this under "BAD" but in this case, it could mean that Nicola’s reality show creation of a few years ago could finally see the light of day.

Temptation Ireland. Instead of tanorexics cavorting in hot tubs in the tropics, the show would feature pasty drunkards stumbling out of pubs and tending to live stock. Nic, screw nutrition and science, this is your moment in the sun (don’t forget the SPF 50 lest you freckle and buuurn)

06 November 2007

Not the Iranian President

(Throw the infidels under the school bus)

Paulie is not dictating an uprising among impressionable three year olds at his preschool. He simply asked if he could stand up on the circle rug and sing "We are the Dinosaurs...Whaddaya Think of That," (If you have kids between 1-5, this song probably invades your personal space on a daily basis; it's tougher to expel from your mind than 1-800-54-Giant.) Apparently, he took the song very seriously, pointing (whaddaya think of that!) kicking, stopping to take a rest and then "roaring" through the finale. His teachers took some pictures because they almost couldn't believe that this was soft spoken Paulie. They credit his performance to his being in a different classroom and out of Caroline's shadow this year. She used to follow him around, mother-henning him to the point where she'd follow him into the toilet to make sure he washed his hands. But now, he's come into his own, and is in fact following in her footsteps with regard to performing. After playing one of six Dorothys in the preschool production of the Wizard of Oz last year, Caroline staged many a spontaneous production among unwitting spectators in the months following. She recuited participants, gave excrutiatingly detailed stage direction and got royally pissed off when anyone screwed up the lyrics and accompanying sign language to "Somewhere over the Rainbow." Anyone who was in the bleachers during one of the interminable rehearsals at Renegades games can attest to this. Still, maybe one day they'll be a brother-sister team like Maggie and Jake or Justin and Justine, just dear God not like Michael and LaToya (regardless of the fact they have 'Kathryn Jackson' as a mama).

Bonus video "Roar Roar Cheese":
Ready for his close-up, Paulie nails the role of T-Rex, but after noticing the cameras, remembers to be gracious to his fans and say "cheese."

04 November 2007

An Evening with the Waterboys (somewhere near Best Buy)

While we still get out and see our share of shows, LPD and I realized there have been a number of subtle changes to the experience over the years. For instance, more often than not, the shows we get tickets for tend to be billed as "An Evening with [insert band name here]," as if we were taking in a PBS figure skating exhibition. Case in point: We headed out to "An Evening with the Waterboys" at the Berklee Performance Center to rock out to the Celtic anthems of our youth.

On the drive into town, we noted another subtle change, this time in the way the city's skyline looks from the south. As we exited 93, we marveled at how the Belvedere building resembles a massive Stormtrooper's head eclipsing the Pru tower. Captivated by this sight, we nearly rearended a Lexus on the off-ramp.

The show may be billed differently these days but preshow is just as important as it's always been. Heading up Mass Ave, we exchanged ETA calls with the rest of the concert crew. Jen & Matt were already at Match, our preshow destination, ordering up some miniburgers (that tasted like hotdogs.) LPD and I were looking for a parking space when we got the call from Mike, et al who’d just entered the city limits.

“Where are you guys?”
“We’re just passing Best Buy on Newbury St.”
“What? Best Buy! Where is that?”
“It’s the old Tower Records.”

"The Virgin Megastore.”
“That’s a
Best Buy, now? Jesus.”

Indeed there was something unsettling about this behemoth of a Best Buy on the corner of Newbury and Mass Ave., kind of like a Walmart on the Boston Common. Which is why we took a photo of it; we were not sure it would actually show up on film. Not so subtle changes on this city block. Less than a year ago, we'd meet at “Blue Cat” by the Virgin Megastore. Now it's “Match” by the Best Buy. This is exactly why we insist on referring to places and landmarks by their most familiar incarnations, like Harborlights and Great Woods. Tower Records, etc.

One thing that has not changed: Some people turn into self-absorbed jerks when it comes to securing a parking spot. LPD and I swung down the Newbury extension where we ran into a sidestreet traffic jam caused by some idiot who was parked in the middle of the road, on his cellphone, waiting to get into the Harvard Club’s parking garage. He just sat there blocking the street as eight, nine, ten cars backed up, all the while ignoring the chorus of horns and hand gestures rising behind him. We sat there for eight full minutes, all too aware the only thing separating us from our pre-show cocktails was this ignorant butthead. Thunderclouds appeared over LPD’s head in the passenger seat. She jumped out of the car with tiny fists of fury and marched up to the driver, pointing out the traffic jam born of his own rudeness. Still on the phone, the driver swung in an inch or so to let the caravan of cars edge past him. Everyone booed as we passed by (including a Condi Rice look-a-like with steam coming out of her ears behind the wheel of a Suburban). LPD shook her fist out the window, “You IDIOT!”

(Don't mess with Mama)

We rounded the corner onto Comm Ave and the clouds lifted. A light from above, a divine streetlight, glowed down upon a metered parking spot right by the Elliot Hotel. The gift of time, returned to us.

At last, we joined everyone at Match, Burgers & Martinis, where this group of seasoned concert veterans couldn't find out if there was an opening band or not. It suddenly dawned on us all at once that “An Evening with the Waterboys” was likely just that. We quickly settled up, bolted over to Berklee and slid into our seats, 30 minutes tardy.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Mike Scott appeared to be dedicating songs to the Burmese government.

“OH. This is not good.”

Nothing brings down a show faster than the details of the military junta offensive against civilians in Eastern Burma.

Wait, isn't it Myanmar? I thought it was Myanmar.
Does it matter?

Important world issues should be discussed in a proper forum; we just didn't think that forum should necessarily be here on this "Evening with the Waterboys" where people have come to distract themselves from the world's horrors. Luckily Mike Scott, a natural storyteller, lightened up and carried the show higher and higher with each song and anecdote, far, far away from Myanmar and back to Mass Ave. A headbanging fiddler and a keyboardist who resembled Ozzy Osbourne backed him up with much fervor. It was so evident that these guys love what they do, they love the music and to perform and their energy was infectious. They even did some straight-up dance numbers, busting into irish jigs during “When will we be Married” and “Raggle Taggle Gypsy." Scott also performed a spastic jazzercise beneath some strobe lights during one lyric-free jam. You know you’ve seen a good show when you don’t recognize half the songs but you’re blown away by all of it and can’t wait to go home and download the new tunes immediately. (New downloads: “Love will Shoot you Down” “She Tried to Hold me” and "Sustain” -- all very good but so much better live.) Of course, the old favorites, sublime: “Whole of the Moon,” “Killing my Heart,” “The Pan Within.” They ripped through two encores, including “Fishermen’s Blues” and a swing-out cover of Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive.” You could tell the band didn’t want to leave the stage, and the crowd didn’t want them to either.

Alas, the houselights inevitably came up and we spilled out onto the sidewalk, giddy in our exceeded expectations, recapping among the throngs. Rare is the show these days that can turn a bunch of jaded old fools into born again rookies. This one did just that.

LPD and I even got the water giggles on our (very silly) ride home. Absolutely giddy over our "Evening with the Waterboys," we headed back to the burbs, blaring Kanye West:

“LPD, you can be my Black Kate Moss tonight.”

Good times, all!

31 October 2007

Halloweeeen Quizzilla (Boo!)

1) What are your plans for Halloween night?

Trick or treating early. Friends stopping by after for a sugar high dance party with "Dorothy Gale" and a "Pig with Glasses." And if we're really lucky, we'll see an infant italian monkey and a wee girl in Peapod bunting. I'm sure wine and chocolate and Sweet Tarts will be involved. I can feel the first blush of a migraine coming on just thinking about it.

2) What are your Top 3 favorite Halloween costumes of all time? (It doesn't have to be one of your own)

-Charlie Brown ghost costume -- a sheet with numerous holes cut out and a treat bag full of rocks. (Me, a long time ago)

-Daniel LaRusso in the Shower (T-Bag, not that long ago)

-Aluminum Foil Swan Doggie Bag (Waiter at Dali -- not that long ago, via S)

3) Have you "Boo"-ed or been "Boo" - ed?

Both, several times over. In case you're unfamiliar, "BOOING" is a suburban phenomenon where someone leaves a sack of treats on your doorstep (usually candy and Halloween favors and junk), rings the doorbell and runs off. In addition to treats, the boo sack contains a picture of a ghost named "Boo" that you have to hang on your door to let other potential booers know you've already been booed and to go boo elsewhere. Once you're booed, you are charged with the responsibility of booing two other neighbors within 24 hours. It's basically a high maintenance chain letter. Of course, we've been booed a number of times, regardless of the ghost on the door. We thought of re-booing the boo sacks. So, we went out booing last night -- three neighbors -- which was a little too exhilarating for C&P. Future toiletpaperers and eggers of the South Shore.

4) What is your Halloween Candy personality?

Click here to find out and share the results.

I'm partial to Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Twix and Twizzlers which, according to the chart, means I am a generous soul trapped between two personalities and deep down, a truly demented sicko.

5)What was the last Halloween party you attended?

It was two years ago, a Halloween/Birthday party for one of James' friend's daughters. They had this contest where you had to eat a honey-dipped donut that was hanging off a string with your hands behind your back. Caroline walked up to the line, ripped the donut off the string and wolfed it down in about three bites. In her defense, she was 2 and the other kids were 7 and 8 so it was ok. The other night we were wondering why nobody has Halloween parties anymore -- think Brandy Petes, etc. Then we realized that plenty of people still have them, we're just not invited to them, and even if we were, we probably couldn't go anyway. O-L-D.

29 October 2007

Car Troubles

Sometimes I benefit from James' inherent luck; other times he suffers from mine. A few months ago, he lost my car keys after a late-night hockey game. And on Saturday, he accidentally threw away my spare set. My only set. The act stemmed from a good deed; he was cleaning out my car and the keys ended up in the trash along with some take-out bags and straw wrappers from Dunkin’ Donuts. He then packed up the trash in his own car and hauled it off to the dump. That said, there was no divide and conquer on the to-do list all weekend as we had to wait until today to have the car towed to the dealership to have a new key programmed. $200 in the garbage, literally.

The rest of the day, a similar theme. That afternoon, we headed to Braintree for Isabella’s 6th birthday dinner. Demetra made a fat lasagna and ordered a phat cake from Konditormeister, so everyone was eager to get there. Miraculously, we were the first to arrive and immediately shared the car-keys-in-garbage story. Demetra told us that Maria was having her own car issues as we spoke: A flat tire, growing flatter by the moment, as she sat in traffic on Boylston Street, caught in the middle of an apparent Iraq War protest. In a series of frantic cell phone calls, she delievered the news: “My tire's going flat! I can’t get out of the city! There’s some kind of riot!” She’d told P to just go ahead to the party on his own and bring Isabella’s gift with him in case she couldn’t make it. P showed up 45 minutes later, looking like he’d just rolled out of bed, carrying some miniature Uggs and a roll of wrapping paper. We were still waiting for Nana Peg, however, who was bringing the sauce for the lasagna. “Where the hell is she?” Moments later, Peg walked through the front door, ashen.

“Uh oh. You look like you have a story too,” Demetra said.

“The sauce. I spilled the sauce all over the damn car.”

All was not lost. There was plenty of reserve sauce for the lasagna and Maria was able to get her car to the shop, hop in a loaner and make it in time to sing Happy Birthday.

Later that night, while trying trying to bring the kids down off a massive sugar high, we started half-watching “Stranger than Fiction.” In the movie, Will Ferrell’s character is due to meet an untimely demise because his wristwatch is three minutes off. I got to thinking that maybe all of these unexpected disturbances and inconveniences are really blessings in disguise. Fate. Or maybe it’s just mercury retrograde. That planet needs to get its ass direct!

So Good!

Once again, I fell asleep during the game, anxiety-free, and woke up to the scenes of celebration from Lansdowne Street and Colorado. This morning, James "dont' tell me what happened" was firing through the TiVo, and I was walking around with a poker face on, not touching the computer or radio. The entire scene and series was identical to 2004. It's not quite as magical but we'll take it. The Boston.com headline, in the spirit of Sweet C, said it perfectly -- So good! Bring on the Duck Tour Victory Parade.

26 October 2007

All About the Sox

Seems Bean Down Under is feeling the magic all the way from Brisbane! Two down, two to go. Finally getting anxious. And how 'bout Papa-Jima?

10/23: It's all about the Red Sox right now. It's all around us. Yesterday, people everywhere were bleary eyed from staying up too late watching the post-celebration unravel at Fenway into the wee hours of Monday morning. All day long, we moved through the day, riding on the energy and anticipation of the World Series, and an extra Dunkin's or two. I was waiting to post insights from BG, who is a much better sports scribe but he's too busy at work. It was then I realized that BG and Jonathan Papelbon are very similar creatures: Very focused on the task at hand, can be intense about accomplishments. But then can let loose and do an irish jig in his underwear, or do something like this. I hope we can harnass this sentiment over the next week. And I really hope that the anxiety of watching these games will somehow end with someone running the bases in a gorilla suit and a tutu.

18 October 2007

These Guys Can't Do it Alone

In a thoughtful, faith-restoring rant on the Red Sox, PU Correspondent Brownguy talks us off the ledge, explaining why it's far too early to sound the death knell.

These are difficult times for Sox fans (I’m not into the whole “Nation” thing – especially since the mini-empire assesses a fee to be recognized as part of this elite group). Everything seemed to be going so well when Manny clocked that 2-run HR Saturday night into the lower bleachers, followed by Lowell’s HR to take the lead. Sure the game became tied in the 6th, but our world and this series went to sh*t when Tito turned to Gagne to close things down in the 11th. Let’s hope that experiment is now over, and the next time we see that overweight batting-practice gimp, it will be in the 7th inning of the first Sox/Devil Rays game next season -- and he won’t be wearing the reds and whites.

Things haven’t been the same since.

Sox starting pitchers are only going 4 2/3 of an inning for the last 3 starts, and only 4 guys are hitting: Youk, Papi, Manny and Lowell. These guys can’t do it alone. The remaining line-up couldn’t hit against a guy who topped out at 90 mph only once on Tuesday night, yet was so impressed with himself that he bragged about it upon entering the dugout. Pedroia (.172 avg), Drew (.231), Crisp (.192) ‘Tek (.192) and Lugo (.208) have been atrocious in the playoffs. And these numbers actually include the Angels series where they did hit. Watching these guys at bat is like watching the 3 token girls on your co-ed softball team walk to the plate – it kills an inning and any hope of making something happen. (Sorry ladies, but out of all the co-ed games I’ve played, I’ve only played with 1 girl who could hit the ball past the pitcher with any velocity.)

OK, OK… enough of my glass-half-empty rant. The last 4 days have quite frankly sucked swamp-ass for this team and their fans. I’m waiting for Mo Vaughn and Jose Canseco a la 1995 to come up to the plate in Game 5 so they can slam dunk the ass festival. But let’s turn our thoughts to the 1999 ALDS. Remember that? The Sox were down 0-2 to the Tribe, won 2 at Fenway (one shellacking that I saw in person with T-Bag and Nova), and then clinched it AT Jacobs Field, with 2 improbable Troy O’Leary HRs after intentionally walking Nomar both times. And of course the grand-daddy of them all, Pedro crippling the entire Indian’s roster with a busted back in 6 shut-out innings.

("Wake up the damn Bambino. Maybe I'll drill him in the ass")

Now I know Pedro’s not walking through that door, and Troy is not walking through that door (thankfully), but perhaps Tito can let Ellsbury and Kielty walk through that door while Coco and Nancy Drew take batting practice – hell, maybe they can learn how to strike-out instead of hitting into double-plays all the time. 1 out is better than 2, right?

But consider these numbers I pilfered from espn.com: When a team is leading a 7 game series 3-1… historically out of 65 series, 34 of those series were won in 5 games by that team leading 3-1. 17 series were won in 6 games, and 4 series in 7 games. I know, a tad depressing. But in 10 out of those 65 series, the team LOSING 1-3 won the series in 7 games. “So you’re saying there’s a chance.” Sure it’s only a 15 percent chance, but that’s better than Lloyd Christmas’ chance with Mary Swanson in "Dumb and Dumber." OK – totally unrelated but that movie was great and I had to somehow reference it after stealing Lloyd’s quote.

("We're gonna getcha.")

So what, the Sox can’t win 3 games in a row now? The Indians just did it. The Sox did it 16 different times this season. Now I’m not going to cheapen the situation by reminding you all of how 2004’s ALCD ended. Let’s face it – that was an anomaly and something only characteristic of the personality in that team. But this year’s team and the ’04 Dirt Dogs have the same mindset for the next game (as well as any recovering alcoholic) – One Day at a Time. Tonight’s game to the Sox is Game 7 of a series tied at 3-3. And I like Josh Beckett going in Game 7 of a 3-3 series. I know it’s unlikely for him to dominate like he has in the past 2 games, but he’s rested and has been in this situation before in an environment scarier than Jacobs Field (think batteries coming at you instead of gnats). And the offense seemed to have an idea of how to connect on CC SaFAThia. And then we move to Game 6 at Fenway. Over the years, Schilling has typically rebounded well after a loss. Consider that this could be (in my opinion it will be) his last outing in a Sox uniform should light a fire under his ass. If that doesn’t, 39,000 obnoxious Sox fans will. And if they take that game, we move on to Game 7 where anything can happen, especially in Boston. Sure we’ll see Westbrook again – but the Sox will be ready for his junk. And hopefully that 1 hour internal conversation Dice-K had with himself at his locker after Game 3 translates to his arm. If not, we have Jon Lester ready to hit the mound with a shot of sake for the Dice man (did anyone else notice that he only gave up 1 hit in 3 innings last night with 4 K’s?). So hang tight Red Sox Na…. uh, fans. Yeah, this totally sucks right now – big time. But we’ve ALL had a day off to rest, and we’ll resume things for at least one more time tonight. And this privileged Pointy Universe correspondent is not shutting the season down just yet.

17 October 2007

Current Events Quizilla

1) Did Ellen Degeneres overreact on her show about the dog?
I don’t think so. She’s an animal lover and I think she was genuinely upset about what happened. She's a crier. I remember her crying on a show after hosting the Oscars. In this case, she didn’t use her show and position to bash the shelter folks (which would’ve been justified after their ridiculous over-the-top sting operation) but to apologize to them, a mea culpa for not playing by the rules. She offered a tearful plea to the shelter to give the dog back to the girls. As long as she doesn’t make a habit of it and become mawkish, it’s all good.

2) What do you think about the bridezilla suing the florist for $400K?
A reptile with zero perspective. How miserable a person do you have to be? It’s your wedding day, you’re marrying the person you love, in the company of family and friends, all is festive. But, the shade of the flowers is a bit off and it’s clashing with the décor. The wedding is ruined! I'm going to weep at my wedding and then sue. We all know someone like this, though. The perpetual malcontents, the self congratulatory high maintenance who believe that their relentless disapproval equals sophisticated tastes. But they’re usually the dregs of humanity, the kinds who would throw a bug into their entrées for a free meal. Sure, if it turns out that there was some breach of contract, she should get some money back. But $400K? Emotional distress and embarrassment? Get a real problem.

3) Is it over for the Sox?
I’m not optimistic, but they’ve done it before. Three years ago this week to be exact.

4) Did you watch Matt Lauer’s interview with Larry Craig?
Yes. I watched in amazement, thinking: Wow, this guy really believes what he is saying. I wonder if he realizes how transparent he is, how evident his self-loathing is. Nope. Talk about living on deepest plane of denial. And he and his “wife” sitting there, talking about their bond, the strength of their marriage was just more evidence. I’m always skeptical when people feel like they have to do PR for their relationships.

As one blogger eloquently noted, the history of similar charges against Craig, “have been sitting out there, like the one-eyed aunt dressed as an elephant in the middle of the tea party.” He’s been caught several times with his pants down but it’s always the result of a “misunderstanding.” I think it’s odious that he – someone who shapes policy -- condemns the gay lifestyle while pursuing one in secret. And then lies about it.

5) Have you read any articles, print or online, that piqued your interest recently?
Yesterday, I read a piece on the search for the new Juan Valdez. The search was likened to the quest for a Tibetan lama, a combination of "Colombian Idol" and "Survivor," but finally resulted in the selection of Carlos Casteneda, a third generation coffee grower. The real deal. Soon, he’ll be popping up randomly in your life, he and his donkey, peeking through your kitchen window or joining you at your breakfast bar, raising his mug to you in salute for your fine taste in java. And just like before, you won't find this the least bit unsettling.

15 October 2007

Truck Touchers

You can't throw a doggie bag of shrimp scampi out the window without hitting one of these popular suburban extravaganzas. Usually held in random parking lots, "Touch a Truck" events let kids get up close and hands on with the motor vehicles of their absolute fascination. Paulie almost faints whenever a fire truck or school bus rolls by, Caroline always asks if she can drive Stu's truck (mailman). Here, they were able to take their vehicular fancy to new heights, climbing into the cabs of 18 wheelers and hook and ladders, running amok on the back of a flatbead, and crawling around, in and out of some police cruisers and mailtrucks. Then they can got their faces painted and had some snacks. What’s better than that? Apparently the free trolley ride,
included in the price of admission, that takes you up and down scenic Route 53. The sightseeing through trolley windows proved to be much more exhilarating than that of the daily Volvo excursions:

“There’s 7 Eleven!”

“Oh my God, there’s Webb’s. It’s Webb’s! We take swimming lessons there!”

“Oh my, oh wait a minute, are we going to pass Finagle a Bagel? I think we are! There it is! Look!

12 October 2007

Go Sox

There will be anxiety, but thankfully it won't be New York-induced anxiety. Which makes all the difference in the world.

Underdogs no longer. Go Sox!

P.S. Happy Birthday to our Libra pals: Goy, Auntie and SAC!

10 October 2007

The Suburban Traveling Circus

As you know, the traveling circus makes many stops. In several gatherings and celebrations spanning two weekends, the TC experienced a birthday, an intervention, and a massive sugar crash. And another Red Sox victory, of course.

1st stop: Jack’s 1st birthday party was both nontraditional and traditional -- and quite a ripper, I might add. I hadn’t had a chance to view the photos until a few days ago and realized I had to share them all. Let’s just say the two photogs of record, Caroline and I, have very different visions.

2nd stop: LPD, Jess and I headed to the Scarlet Oak, which is fast becoming the venue of choice for bringing friends back in from the ledge. This time it was Jess who required help, having plummeted into a depression in the wake of Suppah Club’s cancellation last week. Her first night out since giving birth was nothing less than restorative.

3rd stop: Goy spread out the snack plates and set up a massive bouncy slide to entertain the kids while we cackled on the patio, passing around Sweet Baby James with much fanfare. Inside, as the games started up on TV, an intense match of Hungry Hungry Hippos broke out in the dining room. My lightness of mood led to poor judgment as I allowed Paulie to have a Whoopee pie after 8 p.m. In a prelude to a sugar crash, he ran amok with a hobby horse, giving new meaning to the term Hingham High. Shortly thereafter, he collapsed on my lap with a juicebox and philosophical declaration, “We can’t stay here forever.” Indeed, Paulie.

Enjoy the crappy slideshow documenting the ride. No music today. I couldn’t stomach the cheesy offerings of songs “in the style of" Kool & the Gang. I will find a way to pirate my way around this wet blanket, just not today.

04 October 2007

Bisons Clinch on the Common

The Renegades, in the typical dramatic fashion that has become their hallmark, won their fifth championship in six years, and third in a row after defeating that other team on the Common. For a recap, stats and more photos of the traditional post swill at the Sweetwater, please visit J. Roche's impeccably maintained site devoted to all things Bison.



Congratulations go out to T-Bag who was honored as 2007's Besotted Bison. Don't let this photo fool you. He was a force to be reckoned with this season. More on his win, here.

Stroller Envy

Parent or not, check out my story today Coveting thy Neighbors Stroller to see just how insane it's gotten in the world of keeping up with the Joneses. The wheels have officially come off the wagon and our new mamas and papas are steppin' it up left and right with their fly Bugaboos and Bobs. They are pretty cool-looking, but I'm so glad I missed this craze. Expecting buckets of hate mail for this one.

01 October 2007

Dan Talbot

UPDATE 10/2: Nice words for Dan from his local paper.

I wasn't going to write about this because it's almost too sad a topic for the PU. But I can't think of anything else today. By now, everyone's heard the tragic news of the Revere police officer who was shot and killed over the weekend. Dan Talbot. Dan was our tenant in EB from 2002-2004. He and his girlfriend Connie lived downstairs from us with two ferrets named Lenny & Squiggy, and then shortly thereafter two Jack Russell terriers which they named Louie & Rocco (in the spirit of Vito). At least twice a day, the dogs would get loose and run amok in our apartment upstairs and either Dan or Connie would have to come up and coral them. These hilarious little outbursts often ended up with cocktails in the kitchen. We really got to know them while they lived downstairs. They were good kids and you could tell there was a lot of love between them. On the news, people keep describing Dan as an "all around good guy" which was true, but the cliched expression doesn't seem worthy of his kind soul. Whenever it snowed, Dan, James and JAL would shovel out all of the older neighbors cars along the street. Whenever James needed an extra man for his hockey team, Dan would sign on. He cared about the neighborhood and would park his cruiser on the sidestreet to discourage the drug dealers across the street from doing business near our house. Needless to say, it got very quiet at Furio's House of Drugs while Dan lived downstairs. By the end of 2004, we were sad to learn Dan & Connie were breaking up and going their separate ways. "Too young," they said. I just learned through the news this weekend that they ended up getting back together last year; they purchased a condo in Salem four months ago and were planning an Oct 2008 wedding. Which makes this the worst kind of tragedy. The details are sketchy. Nobody's quite sure how or why Dan & Connie ended up behind Revere High School early Saturday morning. He was on the anti-gang unit of the police force and "words" were apparently exchanged with a gang member at a bar across the street prior to the shooting. Dan was only 30 years old. Then one night, a brief encounter, a judgment call, perhaps. It's all over. I can't begin to imagine the heartbreak. That said, thoughts can't be anywhere except with Connie on what are sure to be the most difficult days ahead.

28 September 2007

Pimp My Ride, Unsolicited

I was talking to my brother about his plans for the weekend and he told me he was going to a wedding. "Whose wedding?" "Carl’s," he said. "Carl’s?! Carl Carl's?" "Yes." I hadn’t heard his name in years and even if I had, I certainly wouldn’t have associated it with something as conventional as a wedding. He was one of my brother’s best friends growing up. A rare breed, brilliant and shady. Whenever he’d come over, he’d alter something in the house without anyone knowing – he’d draw faces on the eggs in the fridge or move the furniture around. He once shaved a shamrock into the back of his head for St. Patrick’s Day and proceeded to go around asking people if he indeed had a shamrock on his head, and why did they think that was? Once when we were all going to see U2, he made his own concert t-shirts with iron-on letters. The front: “I like U2.” The back: “U2 is Good.” He was always crashing his cars, including some BMW he bought from some random stranger at Constitution Beach for $800. Once when he was in need of a car, my mother actually GAVE him hers, the official reason being he wouldn’t accept any money for installing some of her ceiling fans.

While in college at Northeastern, Carl lived in a huge apartment on Gainsborough Street where he proceeded to stay a decade after graduating. Everyone was welcome. He even befriended Lorenzo, the homeless guy who used to pass out on Huntington Avenue. Once at a New Year’s Eve party, we walked in to find Lorenzo getting down in the middle of a dance circle with partygoers chanting: “Go Lorenzo! Go Lorenzo! Go Lorenzo!” The four bedroom apartment, which he had mostly to himself, became something of a hotel. And it was always full on the weekends. The only drawback to staying there was that Carl, an early riser would blast, at maximum volume, the Gap band’s “Early in the Morning” at 6 a.m. Anyone who has stayed there can attest to this horror.

There are numerous Carl stories, but this is my favorite: One afternoon, he and a group of whomever had stayed there the night before were sitting on the front steps when some man pulled into a metered parking space in front of the house. Apparently, he was going to the Red Sox game around the corner, and as he pumped a couple of quarters into the meter, he mentioned something to the effect that it was “cheapah to get a ticket than to park over theah.” The man’s beat-up beige Subaru wagon was completely filthy. It was clear the he was a painter as there were some dirty old drop cloths, paint cans, brushes and rollers in the way back. Inside the car, there were fast food bags and coffee cups all over the floor, four inches of dust on the dashboard and a cupholder overflowing with change and lint.

Carl, who also had a wee criminal record, broke into the car and rallied his guests to the cause. They removed all of the trash from the car, then vacuumed it out and dusted it off. They folded the drop cloths and organized the tools and paint cans. They even neatly stacked his coins in the cupholder, by denomination. Then they washed the car and shined it up with a shammy, finding the car was white, not beige.

When they finished, they sat up in the third floor window, waiting and watching. When the man returned a few hours later, he walked right by the car three times, he looked up and down the street, probably thinking he’d been towed. He had to read the license plate to confirm that this was indeed his car. He started looking around, probably to see if there were any cameras, then he shook his head, laughed and drove away.

26 September 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) What are your favorite types of art?
Love the written word, of course. Novels, short stories, films.

2) When was the last time you got a free lunch (or breakfast or dinner)? Who paid for it?
Free lunch at a Thai restaurant in Dorchester, courtesy of an editor, after losing an ambitious struggle with a bowl of Pho.

3) On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how hungry are you right now?
5. Just polished off a leftover Mediterranean wrap from Cedar Cafe for breakfast. Focused on lunch.

4) Approximately how long do you spend each day responding to emails?
It depends on the subject matter. Some are one sentence answers, all cordials spared. Others are more thoughtful and require more time. Overall, probably about 30 percent of the day. That doesn’t include deleting the junk. I don't know how I ended up on the Pillsbury mailing list but they are relentless. If anyone wants a coupon for Toaster Strudel, let me know. They've sent me about 90 of them just this week.

5) Have you busted out your fall wardrobe yet?
Not yet -- thank goodness. It's going to be 90 degrees today. Still, I noticed many overzealous people at Dunkin' Donuts this morning in their oranges and browns, wearing sweaters and boots and the latest fall jackets. I predict their fate later this afternoon: In the words of JW’s cousin on the Vineyard so many years ago, after realizing he was wearing too many layers of clothing in the afternoon heat, "What was I thinking? Screw this. I'm going home to change into a jock strap and dental floss."

24 September 2007

Existential Crisis Averted

After having an existential crisis at the Renegades' game on Friday night, I gathered at the Scarlet Oak with Cameo, Code Red and Goy on Sat. night to ease back into the weekend. The crisis involved a serious health scare with Vito that began with me rushing to the animal hospital -- barefoot -- and ended with a meltdown on the Common. "Why do we do this to ourselves? I"m never getting another dog. I can't handle the heartbreak. My God. Why did I have kids!? Am I crazy?" Cameo warned me of overdramatization in the bleachers, basically telling me to calm down and have a glass of Cavit.

BTW: Vito is fine now. It was likely just a case of heat exhaustion suffered at the hands of an ill-informed dog groomer who muzzled him and stuck him under a dryer. A giant no-no with short-nosed dogs -- expecially morbidly-obese pugs who start sucking wind if they have to walk more than 10 yards.

Advice heeded: Calm down. Breathe. Have a few glasses. Never ever take Vito to that groomer again.

21 September 2007

Jackass of the Day

(Let's isolate this chick in a room with Code Red and see what transpires)

Behold MIT student Star Simpson, another overprivileged, blissfully clueless idiot. According to Boston.com, Star walked into Logan Airport today and "affixed to the front of her black sweatshirt was a pale beige circuit board with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery. Written on the back of the sweatshirt in what appeared to be gold magic marker was the phrase 'socket to me' and below that was written 'Course VI,' which refers to the electrical engineering and computer science program at MIT."

This incident is even worse than the one involving those Cartoon Network buffoons last year. Still, they have something in common: None of them care that they've diverted resources away from reality, yet all were indignant and baffled about their arrests. All were somehow unaware that two of the 9/11 planes originated from Logan or that their behavior affects others -- especially Code Red who will likely have to skip the Renegades game tonight because of this boob. Which is a giant bummer.

That said, look for the Judge on the news later, undoubtedly wearing his "You're balmy" facial expression, as Star Simpson is arraigned in EB District Court today.

20 September 2007

What...is the fascination with...

Actually, I think the fascination is feigned.

The latest OJ circus is not deja vu all over again, it's disingenous. Everyone's desperate to recreate the magic of those halycon cable news days of 1994-1995. The aerial shots of OJ's caravan leaving Las Vegas had a "fingers crossed" feel to them, like maybe a Bronco chase will break out. Breaking news banners wail the most mundane headlines: "OJ expected to arrive at courthouse any second" "OJ expected to exit courthouse at any moment" "OJ stops to tie his ugly-ass shoe...wait a second, are those Bruno Maglis?" That nut with the "I Love Famous People" hat at the press conference yesterday was the perfect (and hilarious) personification of the whole charade. In 1994-1995, those freaks and leprechuans outside the courthouse were for real. Today, they're just there to capitalize on their YouTube opportunity. OJ stepped in it again, let's make like 1995 and dress up like Barney Rubble. Let's put a giant Jell-o mold in a sling shot and launch it at the courthouse and not wear pants.
Then there are others who want to see this incident as the finale in some tragic epic. A woman on the radio this morning took it so far as to say she believes OJ wanted to get caught because even he can't live with himself, the guilt over what he did, and unconsciously wants to go to jail. That's insane. That would mean he has some semblance of a soul, some wee shred of humanity. But he doesn't. He's a sociopath and a narcissist. He can’t help himself, he craves the spotlight -- even in infamy (Think: "If I did it" quasi-confession) So, there will be another trial, and like 1995, he will get off and not spend a day in jail. However, this time around -- much to OJ's dismay, I'm sure -- the surrounding circus has very little to do with him.

19 September 2007

Required Reading: Chefs at Play

(Mini epicures still like to lick the bowl)

Check out my story in the Food section of today's Globe on our friend Katie N's new business venture, Chefs at Play which hosts gourmet cooking parties and lessons for kids and adults. With all these GD kids running amok these days, I envision many of these parties in our future. Katie also does parties for adults, so she will likely bringing a full-on gustatory adventure to a Suppah Club near you.

18 September 2007

Brought to you by FIOS

We finally chucked Comcast and got Verizon FIOS yesterday, which is supposed to be four times faster and more reliable. We'll see. The Verizon tech was here all day yesterday wiring the house, driving Vito bonkers. The kids made up a song called "Verizon Man" except -- for reasons unknown -- he was a busdriver in the song, not a technician. They also kept trying to yell knock-knock jokes to him out the front door.

Anyway, I've been trying to catch up on the PU and thought I'd kick off with a weekend diary since this past one was a perfect fall one. Everyone was in the zone.

Friday: The counter girl at Pacini's apparently lives in our neighborhood. When James went in to pick up some take out, she asked him if he owned "that really fat pug." Apparently, he's a bit of a tourist attraction in the area.

Saturday: We had a child-free day and night and Sox-Yanks tickets. When you are blessed with this unlikely combination, you have an obligation to get it right.

We started the day off frontloading at Antonios Cucina Italiana to ward off any post-game street meat jones. As always, this place was solid. It's the North End on Beacon Hill and it never disappoints. We lingered there over a multi-course feast that eliminated any chance of our chasing a sausage cart down Ipswich Street later in the day.

Then we popped over to the brand new Liberty Hotel for a cocktail. This place, the former Charlest Street Jail, is incredible. While it's been beautifully restored, there are reminders of the Big House at every turn. The hotel's bar is called "Alibi." There are two restaurants, a small plate bistro -- and former cell block-- aptly called "Clink" and Lydia Shire’s new venture "Scampo," which is Italian for “escape." We sat at the bar at Clink which is in the hotel's lobby -- a giant rotunda that was once the indoor exercise area for inmates. Now, it’s a gorgeous interior space with some striking architecture but while you’re enjoying a flatbread sandwich, you can’t help but realize you’re looking at the same brick walls that the incarcerated guests looked at many years ago. Very cool.

On a side note: This has to be a future site of Suppah Club. Suppah Club at the Slammah. Also: LOLHB (Lady Owls love hotel bars)
The lobby is a fantastic spot for people watching as well but I spent the entire time looking up.

Then we spent the remainder of the day looking down. Our seats for the Sox game were on the lofty State Street Pavilion, high above home plate. Here we found ourselves surrounded by obnoxious Yankess fans who became increasingly silent as the game progressed. Two guys sitting next to us (Sox fans) must’ve put away six bags of blue cotton candy between them. They became increasingly loud, rising to a sugar-high crescendo as the Sox won 10-1.


It was not just a great game, it was the only game in the series worth attending. Lucky we got it right.

After the game we ventured out to Legal Seafoods by Park Plaza to gobble up a gift card. The place was packed and there was a 90 minute wait, but James (of course) found two seats in downstairs lounge. We sunk into the leather chairs, enjoyed some chowder and a tuna appetizer and ended up bonding with the couple (also parents) sitting next to us. We all tried to get James to go to the Beehive after dinner. But, keeping the peace train from veering off course, James, the voice of reason reminded us how much fun it would be to pick up the babies with a crushing hangover the next morning. Not to mention, he was going to the Pats' game and was expected to be tailgating by 1 p.m.

However, we were still treated to a vicarious nightcap on Route 3. Picturemail: A super close-up photo of BG sipping what appears to be a sidecar at Lucky’s. An appropriate ending to a day gone right.


James dragged himself to the Pats' game and I channeled my Aunt Vinnie, wielding a wooden spoon, cooking up a vat of minestrone and rationing it into Tupperware containers.

14 September 2007


(The Way they Were and Still Are Regardless: The boys, pre-scandal, Park City 2007)

You haven't been able to turn on the radio or TV this week without hearing a heated discussion of this Patriots scandal which is being compared to everything from a Greek tragedy to Watergate. It's something that's been going on for all the ages, even dramatized on the Brady Bunch when Jerry Rogers, like a thief in the night, started dating Marcia just to get his hands on the Westdale High playbook.

Still, I'm surprised at how willingly people are buying into the "Everybody does it" defense. Is this the standard? Somehow the Pats are the victims here: People are jealous of their success. They're being singled out because they're winners. YES. Everybody knows that this is a fact. It's a crappy side effect of human nature. The question is if all of your enemies and frenemies are watching you, waiting for you to falter, WHY WHY WHY -- in New York no less, playing against an ex-protege who hates you, and in the wake of a widely-reported crack down on this kind of behavior ---why would you basically hand your jealous enemies all the reasons in the world to tear you down.

Instead of blind devotion, we should be mad at them for being so stupid and arrogant and tarnishing their good name, New England's good name. I don't care if everybody does it. Everybody supposedly did steroids too and those players are worth little more than an asterisk now.

One colorful "lady" on the telly this morning, with her bleeped out commentary and blurred middle finger, was inviting anyone who dares to call the Patriots cheaters to "hop up and rotate. "

Except they are cheaters. They've been fined. They're losing a draft pick, which I'm told is kind of a big deal.

Bellichick's carefully-worded, likely legally counseled "apology" basically said "Sorry you're upset." I'm not gay. I've never been gay.

While their shame is not on par with that of Barry Bonds or the perpetually incarcerated thugs of the NFL and NBA, they’re still tarnished. Every regular season, playoff game or Superbowl they’ve ever one will be second guessed. And that is a shame.