31 July 2007

Police @ Fenway

The Police at Fenway. While we've been looking forward to it for months, expectations were tepid. But it turned out to be an amazing show, an event, an all around good time. Few shows are memorable these days so this was a welcome surprise. Standout tunes: Truth Hits Everybody, Bed's Too Big Without You, King of Pain, Synchronicity II -- pure adrenaline. On the way home, the post show rehash: "Wasn't crazy about the versions of 'Walking in your Footsteps' and 'So Lonely.' 'Next to You' wasn't as energetic as I'd hoped." Then we realized: We just saw The Police, at Fenway, in the summer, on a Sunday night, in the 10th row. We're in dire need of shutting up and soaking in the fantastic reality of the evening.

Before the show, we met at P and Maria's for a cookout and were supposed to meet up with KT at the Foundation Lounge but deep into the pre-show dilly dally, we totally ran out of time. Boo. We pulled into Pete's secret squirrel alley parking spot and then ended up at Tequila Rain (again), the perpetual last resort.

I took some videos of the show, figuring that'd be better than still photos. Wrong. Taking video while dancing/wobbling on way-high shoes is a bad idea. I'm afraid if I post the vids, someone will have a seziure ala Japanese-Pokemon.


( I love my pants)

My bellies. Seratonin skyrocketing.

Southie, al fresco

Jimmy and I look like we're on a bus.

Oh, hello, Peter.

Miss a turn on Route 1?

Sporting a blousy white linen shirt, goatee, and wee bit of a mullet, Norty channels guy-from-Saugus-chic...and completely pulls it off.


Empty Dunkin Dugout


THE AFTERMATH: Went back to P & Maria's for a foolish indulgence in pork products after midnight. Late night sausages. Another bad idea.

An email from James Monday morning via Billy Dee: "From the Inside Track: 'Spotted: Police guitarist Andy Summers dining at Davio’s and chatting up fellow patron and vintage rocker Peter Wolf.' I'm surprised they were able to keep him off the stage." The man who ruins everything.

26 July 2007

Nantucket: Where We Left Off

(Behold, another crappy low-res slide show)

I'm back from four full days on Nantucket. I missed the family but a change of pace was in order and as always, the island delivered. I was flung back into the fray yesterday because there is simply no way to ease back in. At this hour, I am still detoxing from pitchers of white trash sangria and late night kitchen dancing.

This vacation never disappoints even when it threatens to: 1) FTG forecasted a wash out but every day was perfect -- they were the kinds of days where when the sun got too hot, an ocean breeze would kick up and allow that extra hour of chilling at the beach. 2) Before boarding the Grey Lady, I was stopped by two security guards who pointed to the giant bottle of Cavit jutting out of my canvas tote. Apparently, transporting alcohol on the ferry is illegal. Who knew? We’ve been doing it for years, not wanting to pay premium at Island Spirits. One of the guards reached into my bag, presumingly to confiscate the contraband. Instead, he wrapped it up in my sweatshirt, camouflaged it with my book and magazine and sent me on my way. (Thanks, man.) The overall sense of well being lasted until I learned that they no longer serve hot dogs on the fast ferry. (What?!)

Upon docking, we indulged in our annual tradition of de-ferrying, hitting the Tiki for some frozen cocktails, food shopping buzzed and then cabbing to the house where we found all the good vibes lingering from years past. This is a rare occurrence with so many people and personalities in one house but we’ve found the right mix. We sadly missed our pregnant pals but celebrated the addition of Meghan, Nic, and Dillard (who’s requested her PU name to be “Dillighta.” not “Dillbag”).

We picked up where we left off last year: There was kitchen dancing to the annual Nantucket mix to which everyone on the trip – and those there in spirit – lent a song. As always, there were competing iPods lined up at the Bose, their on-the-go playlists jockeying for position. (BTW, I never ever want to hear “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy again. Ever. Especially since we now know what “Downloading some Country Music” is code for.)

Each morning, I fired up the iPod and took my walk to the rotary for iced coffee.
Every afternoon, we walked to the beach to stare at the ocean and read, idle chit chat rising from our cluster of beach chairs. The snack plates at cocktail hour weren’t quite as robust as years past having no Dell’Olios on board, but we over-enjoyed Brownguy’s batches of white trash sangria and played rousing games of LCR at the kitchen table. Nic was thrilled to nurture her gambling problem on island, taking all of our money – as usual – then gloating mercilessly.

We made Post-It notes for Cameo’s HR folder: Infractions: drinking, gambling, listening to country music, and cutting up her bathing suit.

We shared moments with off-island pals via text and picture mail, which resulted in an uncomfortable moment for Nic when she unwittingly walked in on Brownguy and T-Bag taking an “odd” photo to send to Smitty.

We hadn’t been to the Chicken Box in a few years because we thought we were getting too old for that scene. "Nonsense," we said. While getting ready, I received a call from home – “the babies want to say good night.” But it was a sneak attack, a ruse: They started crying and begging me to please come home immediately. In addition to their grief, Vito was apparently on a hunger strike (he didn’t lose any weight, btw). After I hung up, I started to descend into a guilty meltdown but was abruptly pulled from the quicksand. I was told to “shake it off” and was handed a madras in a pint glass.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at the Box, the band sucked. And when the band is bad, the Box is worse. We distracted ourselves for a few hours, becoming embroiled in a barn burner of a pool tournament. Then, one of the infamous Duke lacrosse players sauntered by with some junior mints and we realized that perhaps we really were too old to be there. Seconds later, a sunburned senior citizen with his Nantucket Reds pulled up to his armpits walked in and all bets were off. We decided to head back to the house anyway -- which was an excellent call. I have some hilarious footage of what transpired but unfortunately cannot post it here.

The next day, we hung out at the house a lot where the occasional game of horse shoes broke out in between Coronas. That night, we had dinner at Cioppino’s where they seated all 10 of us in a private room upstairs. We half expected them to put some orange cones out around us too. Our unnecessary nightcap involved T-Bag squeezing into my denim jacket just to horrify some patrons at the Boarding House. Then, back to the house for hot dogs and hot tubbing and body bomb tributes to all the new babies getting ready to crown on the mainland.

Luckily, we were able to squeeze in a final lament at the Tiki before bidding the island farewell -- until next year when we'll pick up where we left off all over again. Good times, all.

19 July 2007

When Vacations and Due Dates Collide

LPD writes (beautifully) about this year's trip, years past and the impending birth of Baby D. Enjoy!

It is said that among the greatest joys in this world is to bring a child into it. As WMD and I anxiously await the arrival of our own bundle o’ joy later this month, deep down I can’t help but be a bit bummed that childbirth is causing us to miss our annual vacation on Nantucket. Since Jess found our cherished Surfside rental some ten years ago, I haven’t missed a year. Until now.

The Burds are scheduled to board the Grey Lady for Nantucket tomorrow. Though I’m nine months pregnant with a due date a mere ten days from their departure, there are irrational, daydreamy moments when I plot to call in sick and sneak off for a day trip, just to have an hour at the “Tiki” bar for a [virgin] banana-strawberry daiquiri and feel that Vacation Day #1 vibe. Yes, yes, “there’s always next year,” but this trip is what gets me through each work week from August to June. The rare opportunity to spend a week of unbridled fun with your closest friends is a precious treat in our crazy, responsibility-laden adult lives.

Our short week on the island offers the chance to wake up every morning to the salty sea air, well-rested and beckoned by the smell of coffee and the sounds of pals happily chatting at the kitchen table, comparing digital photos and piecing together the events from the previous night (often while nursing serious hangovers with diet Cokes). The remains of the day include a short walk to lounge on the most beautiful beach in Massachusetts, horseshoes in the backyard, fantastic tunes on the Bose CD player, afternoon cocktail hours on the deck, and water giggles in the hot tub with more people than the max capacity allows. The beer fridge is always stocked with Pinot and Coronas and the Dirt Farmer is always watering his dusty million-dollar plot of land behind the house, whose crop is still a mystery to us after all these years.

Family style dinners with rounds of sangria-infused toasts “To Nantucket!” are followed by sing-alongs in caravan taxis as we head into Town. Cocktails ensue at the Chicken Box, Bamboo Supper Club, Cambridge Street, Gazebo or wherever else we can find that allows us to imbibe freely without techno music and underaged New Yorkers. The evenings end with late-night noshes and kitchen dancing back at the house, often followed by “hot-tubbing” (a verb) or a stumble to the beach to watch the stars and wax poetic ‘bout things pathetic. We retreat to our beds for peaceful, intoxicated slumber...then wake to do it all over again. Each day – each year – brings more laughter and greater memories than the last.

The impending birth of our first child brings feelings of such indescribable joy and I smile uncontrollably each time I think of meeting our son or daughter for the first time. However... I can’t help but think wistfully about another part of my life that I’ll be greatly missing this year. We’ll be back. As I pass along the infamous 3-column “LP Grocery List Template”, I hope our friends have another fabulous year at Smugglers Luck, and ask that they raise a glass (or several) to the new Baby D. I’ll be thinking of you all as I practice my breathing techniques.

16 July 2007


Back-to-Back Brushes with Death
Friday, I was almost killed – twice -- in under 38 minutes. At 2 p.m., I was leaving a meeting at the Hancock tower and heading toward the Back Bay garage. For reasons unknown, I made like I was in London; I looked the wrong way on Clarendon Street and almost got plowed down by a Town Taxi when I stepped off the curb. We’re talking inches from death. The driver swerved and screamed something in Haitian. I almost had a heartattack. Strangers – normally indifferent -- were aghast; people were running up to me. Oh my God! Are you OK? Yes. Thank you. That was close. Whew. Wow. Damn!

I sat in my car for a few minutes, dealing. I took some deep breaths and tried to stop my heart from racing. Recovered, I was heading toward 93 over by the Boston Herald. I had a green light at the Harrison Ave intersection when out of nowhere, an ambulance came flying at me from the right. I didn’t even hear the sirens until it was right on top of me. (probably because I was blaring Blur -- Wooo Hoo! -- and blasting the AC.) Considering my sub par driving skills, I still don't know how it didn't hit me. In that instant, I was possessed by Lightning McQueen. I slammed on the brakes and turned the car 180 degrees as the ambulance wizzed by. The fact that there were no other cars on that road on a Friday afternoon is amazing unto itself. I pulled into the Herald lot to do some yoga stretches and more dealing before getting on the highway. Friday the 13th ended up being my lucky day.

Renegade Parade
I was still rattled by my back-to-back brushes with death but I sucked it up and took the traveling circus to the Common to watch the Renegades' game. These softball outings have been gigantic failures over the past few years, full of whining, sherpa loads of gear, and vein-popping hypervigilance. I've left some games crying and even abandoned a stroller on a quick getwaway during Caroline's historic "Gotta take a turn" meltdown of 2005. Then: Life takes a turn. Suddenly, things are much more chill. There were no heavier than thou diaper bags, just a couple of wet naps and a cooler packed with Cavit ponies and juiceboxes. I even whipped up a mobile snack plate for the bleachers. And instead of running on the field or expecting a turn at bat, the kids put on a Wizard of Oz sideshow, played freeze tag and served beverages to the adults. Some scenes:

(video: Oh, this was weird. The game was interuppted short-term by some bizarre parade of undead winding its way thru the Common. WTF was this?)

Apryl wasn't drinking Sangria...

...at Nate's 1st birthday party on Marina Bay yesterday. Why? Nate has a new baby brother or sister on the way. Yup - Apryl is expecting again which means we can expect to see the mama boobs in full effect again soon. It also means Pete is going to have four kids. Pete. Four kids. Say it.


Scott Baio is 45 and Single

They're totally ripping off High Fidelity with the "revisiting of the exes" premise but if they weren't, we wouldn't get to watch crazy-eyed Erin Moran tell Baio that he has a small penis. Wow. In this delicious car wreck of an episode, Baio opened up about his past relationships, including an anecdote about losing his virginity to Moran on a corduroy couch where “mistook” the couch for "her." It's an image I didn't need. Still, I was pleasantly surprised that Baio's ego doesn't preclude him from ripping on himself a little. During the show, he's trying a little too hard to create some chemistry between himself and the life coach that is guiding him on this path of self exploration. No Tony/Melfi thing happening here. He acts annoyed by all the self analysis, repeatedly rolling his eyes at the life coach as if he's not getting paid. Also, I don't know if it's dirt or fine hair but he's working some pubescent-looking 'stache. It's kind of pervy looking. Yet I'm strangely drawn to him.

12 July 2007

The Victoria Beckham Effect

“People think I’m a miserable cow who doesn’t smile. Actually I’m quite the opposite.”

Right. Does anyone else have a burning desire to flog Victoria Beckham with a bag of deli meat? The reason people think she’s a miserable, non-smiling cow is because she always looks like a miserable non-smiling cow. Always. A common media whore, she acts exasperated by the cameras knowing full well she’d disintegrate without them. I've had enough of her this week. Why is her stupid reality-show-downgraded-to-a-TV-special a lead news story -- everywhere? The headline -- "Victoria Beckham is Coming to America!"-- pisses me off because that insect-faced bitch is here, like every week, shopping. And pouting of course. The news outlets are playing it like it's her first time in the country and she's arriving from somewhere extraterrestrial. I don’t get her appeal: A humorless ice queen who doesn’t smile, laugh or eat. All she does is shop and pose, shop and pose. Why is this hot?

I don’t get David Beckham’s appeal either. I don’t care if he’s a professional athlete, he’s not very manly and he's prettier than his wife. But then again, the Beckhams are special, they share a soulful, kismet connection: Recent quote: "I've always had a liking toward clothes, but when I met Victoria, she directed me in the right way," says David Beckham. "When she tells me something doesn't look good, I believe her. We have a connection that way." Wicked deep connection. I'm sure they're a scream to hang out with too.

Let's call it the Victoria Beckham Effect: The more talentless and useless you are is directly proportionate to how cocky and arrogant you behave. Because that’s all you’ve got to offer -- smoke and mirrors. Nothing but your shitty ‘tude (and a few grapes) to sustain you. A washed up Spice Girl who looks the other way when her husband cheats on her because $250 million buys a boatload of Birkin Bags.

Whew. I feel better.

11 July 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) Name one "oldie" tune (30+ years old) and one new tune (less than 1 year old) that you've included on any of your current Playlists.

"Sugar, Sugar" - The Archies. "Ruby" - Kaiser Chiefs. Or, as it's known in our house of Wizard of Oz zealots: "Ruby Ruby Ruby Slippers!"

2) On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 as the highest), about how popular is your last name?

10 +++++. Also, I never thought the Charlies Angels jokes would get old but they're wearing thin. Be careful what you wish for.

3) Have any new TV shows grabbed your attention so far this summer?

The Dell’Olios turned me onto "Flight of the Conchords" on HBO. Love it. I've been playing catch up online. The show's humor is frighteningly reminiscent of my brother P -- I'm reminded of his random poems of yore like “I Love to Boot on Chauncy Street” and his mini-documentary on the Cavity Creeps' ill-fated attack on Toothopolis. Good stuff. 2) "The Singing Bee." I had an idea for a show like this three years ago but was too busy birthing babies to flesh it out. My version was called "Extreme Karoake" and did not have the vapid and witless Joey Fatone as a host or any scantilly-clad Honey Bee dancers. Maybe it should have...this show is so excrutiatingly horrible -- it's fantastic. 3) "Scott Baio is 45 and Single" (the horror). It's going to be impossible to stay away from this one for many reasons. First, I don't believe for a minute that this guy wants to get married. Hasn't he been linked to porn stars and playmates for years and years? Second, a friend mentioned that he must not be getting laid as regularly, thus the reality show. I disagreed. No way. While reality shows like this reek of desperation, appearing in one is a huge turn off. Non-aphrodisiac, lady repellent. Turns out, Chachi in Charge is not really single; he's in a semi-committed relationship with some Pam Anderson body double. He's just whoring himself out for the cash. A good career move for Super Stone Jack? Only if his goals are to become a caricature of himself. Wikipedia sums up "Chachi Arcola's" legacy best: "His catchphrase 'Wah wah wah' never caught on."

4) When was the last time you forgot something? What was it, and how long did it take to remember it?

I forgot to pick up Paulie’s OJ at the market this morning. He won’t LET me forget it.

5) When was the last time you forgave someone? Who was it and what for?

This morning. I forgave myself for forgetting the OJ. I love him fiercely but that dear 3-year old needs to get some perspective.

09 July 2007

The Last Supper...

...for awhile at least. On Saturday, we headed out for a farewell nosh with EPB who is leaving us on Wednesday for Brisbane, Brizzie, Brizvegas. (I’m memorizing the Australian slang dictionary on Koalanet. I got through letter B so far.)

Waiting for Toro to call, we hung out at EPB’s apartment around the corner. A former bagel shop, his place is the perfect blend of cool and cozy and being there really highlights your shitty taste in home accents. B-Mac was resplendent in chartreuse, a tribute in tincture, perhaps, to EPB's bitchin kitchen of the same hue. When our table was finally ready, we bogged into a smorgasbord of mini burgs, chick peas with chorizo, sea-salted veggies and a Flintstonian rib-eye that fed all four of us. My bottomless glass of Albarino saw me through when these three figjams began swapping anecdotes of their athletic glory days. After dinner, we headed to Stella for the standard unnecessary nightcap and then back to EPB’s for yet one more.

Last week, I was reminiscing about EPB's random inebriated phone calls from our less tethered days. In these calls, usually from someone's roofdeck or a bar, EPB either beckoned us to join him or to share something hilarious that had just happened. Those moments are few and far between now that we're clucking around our suburban hinterland in concrete flip flops. But yesterday, the phone rang at 4:30 p.m and I heard the familiar voice of a spirited, togged up EPB on the other end. His friends had taken him out for a boozy brunch and they were holed up at Fritz."Hey, I'm at the Chandler Inn." It made my day. Had it not been for the bonzer of a playdate I had going (body bombs into the pool!), I just might've fired up the station wagon.

We can't pop down for a weekend or a spontaneous swing-by but keep those calls coming -- and emails, of course. Luckily, EPB has started up his own blog. Bean Down Under which he will update regularly (or I will hound him relentlessly). Safe travels, EPB! You will be missed more than you know.

(What's wrong with this picture? James + curb = looks like Shaq)

(B-Mac attack)


06 July 2007

Dayna's No Jinx

I know this post is a week late but I had to exorcise Storyland from my being first.

Before any mentions of the jinx, let the record show that Dayna attended the 6/29 Sox game and they won. So she is not the reason our annual outing on 6/30 ended in yet another crushing loss. I'm beginning to wonder if our presence at the game together conjures some karmic kibosh that causes the inevitable, continuous tanking. While we initially blamed Bill's fuzzy fu manchu for sucking the mojo out of Fenway, it was Dayna who took it on the chin for the loss, receiving a barrage of 7th inning Blackberry messages imploring her to please vacate the park immediately.

Emotions were running high to begin with. I spent the better part of the evening verklempt. It began when EPB completely blindsided me pregame at Canestaro announcing that he's leaving for Australia next week. Another time, I became unglued when the Fenway crowd gave Jacoby Ellsbury, in his first MLB game, a standing ovation for his first hit. What followed were some well-deserved taunts and blackmail photos snapped of me trying to hide the fact that I cried a little.

Aside from the loss, the annual outing was fine enough to warrant a reprise this August. Hopefully, we'll be tricked out at Fenway in all the fashionable FBI garb that Dayna can muster. Good times.

05 July 2007

Fear and Learning at Storyland

(Mind the gap)

We returned from our first trip up to North Conway with the kids and I'm still recovering. Pre-kids, we spent a lot of time up there in the White Mountains -- leisure time -- it's a beautiful place to visit in all seasons. [But make no mistake, for all its quaint galleries, shops and cafes, it’s still New Hampshire: Motorcyclists with mullets where helmets should be. Gunracks. At the local general store, you can buy a steak-and-cheese and some cherry bombs from the nice lady with the lower back tattoo. Sites in the woods off Route 16: A tipped-over school bus. Tumble down shacks with “private property” signs, its occupants likely holed up inside with rifles, challenging the government to just try to smoke them out. Live Free or Die.]

Anyway, we headed north to take the kids to Storyland with the Kielys who were vacationing there with their kids for the week. Years ago, when we spent a weekend up there with the Kielys – pre-children – we eyed the Storyland signs with a sense of forboding. “One day we’re going to have to go there with our kids. Shit.” Indeed, Storyland is one of the inevitabilities of parenthood in the New England area; it's an outing that is faced with deep resignation and a smidgen of dread. It is a fantastic wonderland for kids. For kids. If you’re over the age of six, you need to suck it up and go to your happy place lest you go completely mad.

Alas, this storied land is a three hour ride from Boston, and despite all our cheap distractions and iPod strategies, toddler insurrection set in: “Where are we going.” “When are we going to get there.” “I want to get out.” “Mama, I want you to hold me.” “Will you take off my shoes.” “I have to pee again.” Oh my God. Is it too early to start drinking? A DVD player with headphones was our savior. (Thank you, Lynnie.)

When we finally checked into our hotel and headed off to the park, Caroline and Paulie acted like we were dragging them to the oral surgeon: "I don't want to go." "I want to go home."

“C’mon, guys, it’s Storyland. Look alive!”

Thankfully, once they spotted Conor and Katherine out front, the gloom and doom lifted and they ran amok with delight. They tackled the treehouse playground, took a train ride, went on a pirate ship, visited Cinderella's Castle. They suspiciously eyed a very brunette Cinderella. "Cinderella has blonde hair," they said to the tune of "Who is this bogus imposter?"

(Woo hoo, Boulos)

Then, of course there were the rides. The teacups, the tilt-a-whirl, the flying fish. Every ride spins. And since the kiddos were still too little to go on the rides themselves, we had to accompany them. We grew more glassy-eyed and woozy with each attraction. It was like the Paragon Carousel x 50.

What's happened to us? I used to love rollercoasters and spinning rides. My favorite ride at Canobie Lake was the Turkish Twist, a ride that spun around so fiercely your body would literally cling to the wall from the centrifugal force. Now I can barely handle Ring around the Rosie.

After a few hours, the incesssant ice-cream-man music was starting to make us twitch so we packed it in. Since Nic and Paul had been up there since last Thursday, they were able to scope out places and restaurants that were the least taxing (i.e, have play areas for kids so the parents can chill)

Nic discovered an outdoor ice cream place with Adirondack chairs and a gigantic playground and when we arrived, the place was incredulously deserted. We parked it on said Adirondack chairs while the kids played. We sipped pinot grigio from some to-go cups and marveled at our good fortune at finding the only spot in town that wasn't crowded. We learned later it was because the entire region was in lock-down in the wake of a triple homicide in Conway a few hours earlier. We had no idea. More rainbow sprinkles? Another glass of pinot? Gunman on the loose. A community in fear.

The shooting had taken place at an Army Barracks store just a few miles from the North Conway Grand where we were staying. We'd passed it on the way into town and I remembered it because it had a "help wanted" sign out front. I remember thinking -- after battling the whiny uprising in the car for 3+ hours -- I could crack the passenger door, drop and roll onto Route 16 and flee into the woods. Then, I could get a part-time job and hide out until the kids calmed down in a few years.

All told, there was a great deal of living and learning on this adventure.

-We learned that Caroline has not inherited James’ ultra-competitive nature. Upon being told she'd won some skee-ball horseracing game, she screamed "No I didn’t!" and had a complete meltdown. She felt badly that the other kids lost.

-We learned family vacations are selfless endeavors requiring a tremendous amount of fortitude and patience. The sooner you realize this, the better off you'll be. I realized this on the ride home, but will be better equipped -- mentally, at least -- next time.

-We also learned that you need a condo, not a hotel room. While the NC Grand was a beautiful, family-friendly place, we were rattling around in the room like dice every night. The kids passed out at 8 p.m. and I usually fall asleep around 1 a.m. We couldn't read because the lights would've woken up the babies. We couldn't pop down to the Mountainside Tavern for a few cocktails. In another gross error of judgment, we rented the movie "Premonition." I thought I’d read somewhere that it was like “What Lies Beneath.” It wasn't. It was hilariously bad. We definitely should’ve rented “I Laid the Nanny II: 2007” as James suggested. I can admit when I’m wrong.

While we ended up finding some enjoyment in the adventure, we'll return better prepared next year, a bit wiser with a greater supply patience. One thing for sure: The kids had the times of their lives -- which was the whole point.

Some shots: