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.

12 September 2007

Random Quizzilla

1) Using only one word, how does grocery shopping make you feel?

2) Have you ever been apple picking?
Many times. The experience has evolved over the years, however, from a spiced-rum-and-crab-apple-fight excursion to a more Griswaldian outing. One thing is for sure, we will not be returning to that hostile orchard from last year.

3) What household item would you not want to be without?
We are a household awash in wipes and could never survive without them. Baby wipes, Clorox wipes, Kandoo wipes, Wet Ones, etc. You name it, we've wiped it.

4) If you could go back in time and spend one week in another decade, which decade would you choose?
The Roaring 20s.

5) If you could live in any ancient city during the height of the quality of its society and culture, which one would you choose? Pompeii. As long as I had ample time to beat feet out of there before Vesuvius.

11 September 2007

"Cease Relentless Participation"

The other night, I was awoken by an apocalyptic boom that was identical to the sound of the moon hitting the ocean in my dream last week. It wasn't Armageddon, however, just a really sick thunderstorm, the thunder shaking the house so violently, it set off all of the battery-operated toys downstairs. Cookie Monster's voice sounded like the voice of Satan rising from a toy basket at the edge of the stairs: "If letters were cookies, I'd sure have a bunch." It was Poltergeist. Very unsettling at 3 a.m. The wild lightning also caused some jive power surge that knocked out our high-speed Internet for two days.

It's impossible to work without Internet service and my cell service is so patchy, I couldn't even get online that way. Since I already had a sitter set up for the morning, I was going to go to Kiskadee, my new favorite Internet cafe, but then had to sit around waiting for Comcast to show in a six hour window. I was climbing the walls; I literally didn't know what to do with myself. Then I came across a quote I'd scribbled down a few months ago from the book "Eat Pray Love" -- "Sit quietly for now and cease your relentless participation. Watch what happens. Birds do not crash out of the sky in mid-flight, after all. The trees will not wither and die, the rivers do not run red with blood. " The author also describes herself as having a hyper-awareness of the passing of time, and a restless and stupidly hungry nature that causes her to feel like she can't miss out on anything. Me too. I decided to just chill and embrace the solace of being unplugged. Now, we're back online and back to the every day neuroses. The world didn't come crashing down, but my email server with 212 emails (198 of which were crap) almost did.

07 September 2007

Cream Shop Friday: Darn that Dream

Whenever I remember my dreams, I try to write them down the moment I wake up. This week has gotten a ton of pre-dawn ink. My dreams have been as bizarre as Auntie's pregnancy ones, except apocalyptic and scary.

The two latest:

Dream 1: James and I are shooting potato guns out in a field somewhere (the dream could stop right there on the bizarre factor but there’s more). A plane flying fairly low over the field starts to move in an odd way; its tail is swishing back and forth like a dolphin’s. I wake up just as the plane breaks apart and crashes down in the field in front of us.

Dream 2: I wake up on the commuter boat. It’s nighttime and very dark inside the cabin and I realize I’ve nodded off listening to my iPod. A Billie Holliday song I don’t recognize is playing (it’s not “Darn that Dream”but it's still Twilight Zoney) but I can’t get the iPod light to turn on to find out what it is. I suddenly realize I’m the only person on the boat. Looking out of the window, I see some really crazy lightning on the horizon and the moon looks about 20 times its normal size and keeps getting bigger and bigger. I realize, in a sudden panic, that it’s not getting bigger, it’s getting closer. I run out on deck and it’s packed with passengers screaming and pointing at the sky; it’s clear they’d been watching this the whole time and I’m appalled that I somehow slept through it. The moon (huge) hits the ocean up ahead of us with an apocalyptic boom, causing a gigantic tidal wave. I wake up just as the boat starts to capsize.

Therefore, my new procrastination station this week is Dreammoods.com which has an online dreamer's dictionary, common interpretations of certain symbols and discussions of dream theories by Freud, Jung, Albert Adler and Frederick Perls.

Interpretation of my dreams: My unconscious mind is writhing with anxiety -- or I’m a prophet of Armageddon.

05 September 2007

I Live my Life Like a John Hughes Movie

You know what really gets my goat (I'm bringin' it back): When Labor Day is called the unofficial end of the summer and treated as such. While there are at least two weeks left in the season, everyone starts shutting it down, shuttering their beach houses and lugging their plastic tubs of corduroy and wool down from the attic. We're equally as guilty: Jay Jay's Pool Guys were here closing up the pool as a voice on the radio forecasted 90 degree temperatures for later this week. September is the best month of the year. No doubt. It's still summer like and by the end of the month it'll be cool enough for Vito to make it all the way through a walk without conking out on the sidewalk. For the record, Snackplate Sundays will still be going down every weekend -- except when not -- well after Sept. 21.

Another goat getter: Most of the summer, these beautiful waterfront homes at the beach sat completely vacant. Labor Day weekend was no exception. At one house in particular -- my favorite on the strip -- I didn't see a single soul -- not one -- the entire season -- and we were at the beach a lot this year. The house was completely locked down, its front porch deserted, its Adirondack chairs bumless, its blue hydrangeas perfect.

(View from an empty Adirondack chair)

The house is probably one of the owners' many vacation homes so seaside luxury is likely no biggie to them. Still, the smaller cottages at the end of the road were packed every weekend. You could barely find a beach chair or porch rocker and there was always a line for the outdoor shower. Every time I'd walk by this beautiful empty home, I had an urge to bust open the french doors and start inviting strangers in off the street. At least rent it out so someone could enjoy it! There were plenty of caretakers, landscapers and gardeners tending to the place but it still looked neglected somehow. As I stood there taking digital photos of the place, I suddenly realized I was Molly Ringwald gawking at James Spader's house in "Pretty in Pink" musing, "I bet the people who live there don't think it's half as pretty as I do." I shuffled into a slow jog back down the street, feeling like a gigantic idiot. My life, once again, imitating a John Hughes' movie.

The good news is the annual Labor Day extravanza -- including a costume parade, running races and street dancing -- was a well-populated, joyous tribute to the "unofficial end" and I have a crappy LRSS to prove it. I will post it shortly.