31 January 2007


It might be a good idea to leave work right now. If your commute was horrendous this morning, it's due to get much worse this afternoon. When I heard a "suspicious device" was found on I-93 near Sullivan Square this morning, I figured it was the handiwork of some hooligans from Charlestown. But then four more of these things were discovered this afternoon: Two were in the underpinnings of the Longfellow and BU bridges, a third at N.E. Medical Center, and a fourth at the intersection of Columbus Ave and Stuart Street near the Park Plaza. The Boston Police said all of them resembled "improvised explosive devices" or IEDs but none was deemed dangerous or explosive. They detonated them anyway and scared the bejesus out of all those pigeons nesting in the rafters. Homeland Security just issued a statement calling these incidents a "cruel hoax." But still...yikes. If this were "24," the fake devices would have been decoys to divert law enforcement resources away from a larger-scale attack planned for later in the day. It's likely just some drunk, bored college kids.

30 January 2007

Shameless Self Promotion: Mutha Blogger

Bay State Parent Magazine, a mag I contribute to whenever I can, recently launched a blog. I'll be one of the main bloggers and my first post "New and Improved Disney Princesses" is up today. Check it out, if you wish: www.baystateparent.blogspot.com


Wow. I never saw this coming. Chad Lowe showed up on "24" last night and is expected to appear in at least six episodes this season. Who's next, Rick Schroeder? This is getting out of hand. For six years, "24" has prided itself on its use of unfamiliar actors because it helps in the "suspension of disbelief" (and anyone who has seen the show knows I use this phrase lightly). The producers turned down Jennifer Aniston and Ben Stiller because they were "too recognizable" and I think it was a good call. I'm having trouble with even the most vaguely-recognizable faces this season. I can't stop seeing them as their former characters.

Milo (CTU agent): Formerly Gabe Dimas, toe lothario on "Six Feet Under" who earned Claire the nickname "foot slut" after she sucked his toes.

Graham Bauer (Jack’s brother): The cranky hospital administrator from ER.

Sandra Palmer (President's sister): Rod Tidwell's wife in Jerry Maguire.

Random FBI agent: The creepy "Michael Bolton look-alike" that Matt Damon outwits at the Bow & Arrow Pub in Good Will Hunting.

And now there's Chad. In my TV mind, he will always be Jesse from "Life Goes On" or more recently Hillary Swank's weepy ex-husband. He's not quite believable as a sleazy, two-faced assistant to the uber-paranoid Tom Lennox. Tom Lennox also poses a problem as he is played by Peter MacNichol, formerly known as John "The Biscuit" Cage on Ally McBeal. Every time I see him on screen, I half-expect him to bust into that goofy Barry White dance I’ll give them a chance as manipulative office parasites, however. They are usually the nerdy and socially stunted coworkers who don’t have lives outside the office anyway (i.e., Dwight from the Office). Perhaps they will pull it off.

One of the tenets of "24" is its portrayal of the absurdity and pettiness of office politics. Some scenes are a testament to the dysfunction of governmental agencies, where personal ambition is more important than working toward a common goal -- even when that common goal is saving the country from imminent destruction via suitcase nukes. Last night's episode was WAY heavy on the bickering and politics. Then, when we finally (finally!) get back to Jack's scene where he is about to be executed by thugs, Jack's father intervenes and saves his life. Lo and behold Jack's dad is James Cromwell, a.k.a George Sibley, Ruths’ schizophrenic husband from Six Feet Under. Make it stop!

29 January 2007

Weekend at Brownguy's

(Nice digs, Brownguy!)

It was a lazy Sunday chock full of Griswaldian fun. We took the family on tour, first to Eastie for a family feastie, then to the cellar of our EB house to dig out my old crates of mix tapes. Afterwards, we swung by Southie to take in the Downey & Brownie show and wrecked the place in record time. BG really fixed up #2 beautifully, painting the apt in warm earth tones, highlighting it with his trademarked spotlessness. Enter the Griswalds: Spilled wine, shattered ceramic coaster, a groove in the coffee table quite possibly left by a Matchbox car, and some diaper meatballs. Even so, BG laughed it off as we enjoyed some Snyders of Hanover honey mustard pretzel nugs. We were so proud that Sweet C rested her Little Mermaid sippy cup on a coaster. But once we acknowledged her good manners, she abruptly removed it. Some scenes...

BG entertains the kids with an electronic Whoopee Cushion (a b-day present from Cameo. It has a remote. Fantastic). They loved it so much, they absconded with it and spent some time jumping on the bed, setting it off, and cracking up. "Can we take the fart machine home?" was the final request of two exhausted Jacksons.

Grooving up the leather.

Another classic facial expression

"I am not freaking Paris Hilton." Lily is mortified by Vito's belated Christmas gift to her: A preppy inspired tee with "Socialite" scribbled across it.

"Now THIS is a good dog," says Jimmy.

25 January 2007

Random Quizzilla

1. When was the last time you fell down in public?
I fell down the escalator at the Post Office Square Garage on Monday. Not all the way down -- I just slipped on the last few steps and my laptop bag and one of my shoes arrived several steps behind me. Luckily the only witness to this spectacle was the Indian parking cashier. What hurt even more was paying $36 to park for two and a half hours.

2. What does your car say about you?
If my car could talk, it'd probably talk shit about me all the time in the Stop & Shop parking lot. A Volvo should be driven by a stable, sensible earth mother with calm children and a well-behaved rescue dog. Instead its occupants include a crazy mama who plays music too loudly and is either singing with or screaming at her kids; toddlers who think it’s hilarious to pee in their car seats; and a pug with an anxiety disorder who fogs up the windows. My car has also become a moving receptacle for empty diet coke cans, homeless cds, bank receipts and take-out bags from Dunkin’ Donuts -- among other things. My daughter is notorious for removing random household items from the house and throwing them into the backseat of my car. This week's items: An oven mitt and a stapler.

3. Which celebrity will be forced into rehab next? My bets are on either Paula Abdul or Britney Spears. It'd be refreshing to see a celeb enter rehab for good old-fashioned drug or alcohol abuse again. I still don't understand what rehab has to do with being a bigot racist , a whore, or a homophobe. There is not, to my knowledge, a 12-step program for Assholism.

4. When was the last time you cooked something different or tried a new kind of food?
I do this every day of the week. I find a new recipe on the Internets and then head to Assinippi for the ingredients. Then, I banish my family from the kitchen so I can make dinner and have a glass of wine while watching Hardball and listening to a kitchen-dancing playlist. It's becoming ritualistic. I don't repeat recipes too much but every so often one comes along that makes it into the permanent repetoire A few weeks ago, I made some Spanish garbanzo beans after finding a recipe online that was similar to the ones we love at Toro. YUM. They're here to stay.

5. What are you focused on right now?
As my old colleague BB Smooth J. used to say every day at 10 a.m: "I'm focused on lunch."

19 January 2007

Mix Tapes for the Emotionally Warped

I just read the best book -- “Love is a Mix Tape” by Rob Sheffield. LPD gave it to me last weekend and I read it in a day. My children were dirty and hungry for many hours. Sheffield, a journalist for Rolling Stone, wrote the book about his wife, a fellow music junkie who died suddenly in 1997. He relives their short time together via their mix tapes, showing how you can tie any great memory to a song. While it's a poignant, often hilarious memoir, it is also an ode to the lost art of the mix tape and the people who make them.

Sheffield writes how making mix tapes "allows emotionally-warped people to communicate by bombarding each other with pitiful cultural artifacts that in a saner world would be forgotten before they happened." Totally. I am a life-long member of this emotionally-warped society, where members are compelled to document their lives by compiling mixes of songs and assigning them strange names -- usually random nods to what's going on in their lives at the time. We emotionally-warped souls still make mixes (now "playlists") but it's not such a big deal anymore -- it takes like 10 minutes on the laptop. It's non-labor-intensive. There is zero romance in an iTunes playlist. Before, making a mix tape was a true labor of love. It could take hours to get it right. If a song was out of order, you'd have to start all over again. There was a certain ceremony to it.

Junkies like LPD and I try to keep that ceremony alive. We make a point of getting together to make the mix CD for the annual Nantucket trip. We both understand the nuances of proper song placement (i.e., Def Leppard must come before -- not after -- Justin Timberlake.) and are constantly rearranging songs until it's worthy of kitchen dancing. Takes about 10 minutes.

When I lived in Brighton, I learned that normal people don't do this sort of thing. One of my roommates, who did not share the mix tape gene, watched with complete bewilderment one afternoon as I became unhinged because I couldn’t find a Coolio cassingle. I needed to have “Sumpin’ New” as the third song on the tape or it’d be all wrong. I now realize how insane that must have seemed to her.

I once refused to go on a second date with someone because he put three Bare Naked Ladies songs on a mix tape. I found that gratuitous. (I’d also just met Jimmy. Buh.)

Screw the eyes. Songs on a mix tape are the true windows to someone's soul. They are a testament to what's going on inside. At one time, the state of my music -- albums, tapes, CDs -- was directly related to my state of mind: Scattered all over the floor, out of their cases, and in complete disarray. Those days, I would make up to three different tapes a day…and just walk it off.

I still make my anxiety mixes and walk with my Pod, but my neuroses are no longer in plain sight. They’re tucked away, filed neatly into music folders and arranged alphabetically. Best of all, there is a user-friendly sorting feature so I can find a shitty b-side or an obscure Aimee Mann song that I can’t remember the name of (Sugarcoated)with just a few clicks.

So while I love my Pod – saves time, preserves sanity – it’s just not all that romantic. You'll have to take my emotionally-warped word for it: Anytime you make a mix, date it, and assign it a name, it becomes a part of your personal history -- and it’s more vivid than a journal. It’s your soundtrack.

Here is a wee sampling of mine from the past 20 years:

Now I know how Joan of Arc Felt (Jul 1986): Named after a lyric from the Smiths’ song "Big Mouth Strikes Again." I’d just bought the Queen is Dead and made the tape for a trip to Nantasket Beach with my only friend with a drivers license. Standout tune: “Live to Tell” by Madonna.

Don’t Kill the Tunes (Sept 1987): Named after an incident on City Hall Plaza. Some friends and I were listening to a tiny pink boombox after one of those free WBCN concerts. When we decided to go home, some filthy burnout sitting nearby (that we hadn’t even seen) screamed out, “Aw, man. Don’t kill the tunes.” You definitely had to be there. It was hilarious - I almost weed my Guess jeans. Standout tune: “All Going Out Together” by Big Dipper.

Fresh for '89, Sucka (Feb 1989):
This is quite possibly the stupidest name for a mix tape in the history of mix tapes. I don't know what I was thinking. I was probably drunk and listening to Neneh Cherry (huh, sucka). Standout tune: “Future 40s” by Syd Straw

Poetry in Motion/Polka-dot Lotion (Oct 1989): Named after a misheard Beastie Boys’ lyric. I made this one for an "Around the World" party in Scanlon Hall. Standout tune: “Pure” by The Lightning Seeds

Wonga (Apr 1990): Named after the favorite childhood word of a hypnotized WSC student at the Frank Santos X-Rated Hypnotist Show that came to campus. I made it for Spring Weekend. Standout tune: “My Finest Hour” by The Sundays.

Spoons and Tunafish (Nov 1992): A mix that Brownguy made when we lived on Shephard Way. Named after Barb Brown’s household tip of how to remove the smell of tunafish from your hands: Wash your hands with with spoons! Standout tune: Brownguy’s unexpected voiceover -- “How ‘bout something with a change of pace” -- that leads into “Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees.

We Will Aways Go Dancing (Nov 1995): A mix that LPD made for my burrthday. Named after a favorite line in the movie “Singles” and a mantra that all of us burrds live by. Standout tune: “Someone I Once Knew” by Paul Westerberg. Also known as: “Hey Steve, Someone who was Boo.”

Fuck you, Bertha (Jul 1996): The tape as a talisman. Named to ward off Hurricane Bertha who was barreling up the coast, threatening to wash out our Vineyard vacation. It worked. Standout tune: “Natural One” by Folk Implosion.

Missa Smissa (Jan 1998): James and I made this tape for his friend in San Diego whom he oddly refers to as “Missa Smissa.” The guy’s last name is Smith, so I guess it's more creative than Smitty. We liked the tape so much we copied (dubbed?) it and listened to it all the way up to Sunday River. It’s still one of my favorite mixes and one of the last mix "tapes" we ever made. Standout tune: “Radiation Vibe” by Fountains of Wayne.

From here on, it's all burned CDs and iPod playlists.

17 January 2007

Apocalypse Cocktail Lounge: The Doomsday Clock

Today, the Doomsday Clock was reset from 7 minutes 'til midnight to 5 minutes 'til midnight. For non-Apocalypse zealots, the Doomsday Clock is a Dr. Strangelovian device that has been maintained since 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the University of Chicago. It uses the analogy of the human race being at a time that is "minutes to midnight," with midnight representing total destruction by nuclear war. And you think your job sucks?

We haven't been this close since 1983 when the clock was set at 3 minutes 'til midnight. But then Sting ended the Cold War with his song "Russians" in 1984 and by 1991, we were a full 17 minutes from nuclear annihilation. In 1953, we were at two minutes to midnight, the closest ever, when the Soviet Union and the U.S were setting off test nuclear missiles like bottle rockets in New Hampshire.

(I can't do this anymore.)

And since Jack Bauer -- being fresh out of a Chinese prison, escaping torture and execution at the hands of Islamic terrorists, and reluctantly killing his friend Curtis -- said he "can't do this anymore," we're all screwed.

16 January 2007

Fun with Uncle Brownguy

Grainy 80-second footage of the madness that erupted after yesterday's Pats' game.

12 January 2007

A Box in a Box

The female response to the SNL Digital Short "Dick in a Box" is as equally brilliant and impossible to get out of your head. Enjoy.

It's a beeeeaver.

Vito's Secret Admirer

(Someone is quite smitten with this little meatball)

For the past two days now, Milkbones have magically appeared on the front stairs. I assume they were left for Vito. He ate the first one yesterday and didn't keel over so it's not someone who harbors ill will toward the pug, but someone who is fond of him. I confiscated the second one this morning as Vito's vet-ordered diet prohibits biscuits -- only baby carrots are allowed in moderation. The strange thing is I was home all day both days and didn't hear or see a thing. I'm usually pretty vigilant about people approaching the house so it's as creepy as it is cute. Needless to stay, I'll be doing some heavy surveillance this weekend to try to catch this mysterious pug lover in the act.

Crash Into Me

“James is a lucky bastard.”

It’s a sentiment you’ll hear over and over again. For James, parking spots open up in impossibly perfect places; he wins raffles; birds don’t poop on his car; dogs (except Vito) love him; his Arab haggling ways are executed with such a subtle charm that vendors practically lay their worldly possessions at his feet. Anyway, you get the gist -- things seem to fall naturally into place for him, regardless of circumstance.

I – usually clumsy and cursed -- rode on the coat tails of James’ charmed life two years ago when we bought our house for a wicked steal. Still, like any new house, ours came with the typical list of improvements: new windows, a brick walkway, expanding the back deck, etc. However, our Eastie step child a.ka. the double-decka where we lived for five years before surrendering to the gods of square footage, has been a constant impediment to our plans. We’d decided to keep the 100-year-old EB house because it seemed like a solid investment in a growing neighborhood. So far, it's kept us solidly house poor -- even with good tenants. Short story is the place needs a new foundation badly. Bleh. It’s such a hefty, yet non-glam investment -- like pouring cash into a new septic system when you really want to set up a petting zoo and Calistoga-style spa in the backyard. BUT -- true to Jimmy form -- some idiot lost control of his car yesterday, jumped the curb, grazed a tree, crashed through the backyard fence and slammed head on into the foundation and bulkhead of the EB house. While it remains structurally sound, it was fucked up enough that we’ll likely get some dough toward shoring up, if not completely replacing, the foundation of that old house. Wow.

Of course, since I serve as the “balance” in the relationship, I’ll probably be changing a tune on my iPod -- while driving -- and hit a pedestrian

10 January 2007

Worst Undressed

It is common knowledge that money cannot buy class but Paris Hilton and Britney Spears are living proof that it cannot buy style either. These fashion-challenged morons tied for first place on Mr. Blackwell's 47th annual list of "Worst Dressed" celebrities. But they probably shouldn't appear on this list at all. These dumb bitches were barely clad throughout most of 2006. Britney was routinely seen hanging out in nightclubs with no pants on. WTF? And let us not forget the ratty hair extensions and shameless, repeated flashings of poon (they don't wear underwear either). At least their rank sends a message to any wannabes that "clothing-optional" is a poor fashion choice. Keep your pants on, ladies!

08 January 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) Which celebrity (or celebrities) do you think will make headlines this year?
I think we’re overdue for a fiery wreck involving a ubiquitous celebrity or celebutard. I wouldn't mind seeing Brad & Angie veer off a mountainous ridge (sans children). It'll probably end up being Paris Hilton, though -- a private jet crash, perhaps.

2) Name a song that makes you chair dance.
"I Don't Feel Like Dancing" by Scissor Sisters. Makes me want to don a leotard and leather peds too.

3) Have you ever eaten a crayon?
Yes, but not a whole one.

4) What is your favorite font?
Estrangelo Edessa (identical to the plebian Arial font, but sounds much more fabulous)

5) If you were to write a do-it-yourself article, what would it be about?
Either "How to Get a Diaper on a Naked, Running Toddler" or "Snack Plates for Dummies."

05 January 2007

The Wheels on the Bus

This story is reminiscent of the time a hubcab spontaneously popped off of James' K-car and rolled down High Street in Charlestown. But just as that incident did not spell the end for the K-car, this latest incident will not mean the end of the notorious Fung Wah bus line -- where a bus ticket to NYC costs only $15. Last summer, one of the buses ended up on its side on the Mass Pike just before the Auburn exit. And this week, the wheels almost fell off a Boston-bound bus near Framingham. What do you expect? You get what you pay for and that is part of the Fung Wah's grimy charm.

The bus makes the 215-mile trip to NYC for the cost of a five-mile cab ride in Boston. With such low fares, the Fung Wah can barely afford the gas let alone regular maintenance and repair. The experience has been called travel noir and/or extreme bussing: Bring your sense of adventure -- and a crash helmet -- and hope for the best.

I rode the Fung Wah bus only once back when it was $20 round trip. It was just as expected. Smelly and uncomfortable but not unbearable. On board, a true subculture of society; an eclectic mix of characters, many of whom were traveling with multiple plastic bags. Chinese music -- complete with gong percussion -- blared from the bus' staticky speakers. The belligerent busdriver chainsmoked the entire way but screamed -- in Chinese -- at anyone on board who dared to light up. Somewhere in Connecticut, we stopped at some random Chinese buffet where people could stretch their legs, take a bathroom break or get some take-out. We got dropped off in front of an enormous pile of garbage on a sidestreet in Chinatown in New York. I ended up flying home a few days later. My hands smelled like Chinese food for three days -- even after several showers.

04 January 2007

Apocalypse Cocktail Lounge: Know Your Anti-Christ Candidates

Good news: Part-time Governor and Mormon Gay Basher Mitt Romney left Massachusetts for good today. Bad news: We'll likely see his formaldehyde-drenched mug more in the next two years than we have in the past four as he makes a run for the White House. On the campaign trail, he'll be trashing Massachusetts and the people who elected him. He'll also be spreading his freshly crafted messages of bigotry and hatred like the opportunistic robot he is. But I must admit, he is undoubtedly the strongest candidate. For the Anti-Christ.


While The Hoff came out strong early on, he will certainly wither beneath the soulless, blind ambition of The Rom (a fitting nickname).

02 January 2007

2006: The Year in JPEGs

View this video montage created at One True Media
2006: The Year in JPEGs

Happy 2007 to all. Please enjoy this crappy, low-res retrospective on the positive year that was 2006.

Inspired by true events on movie screens...