23 December 2008

Bad Boy

In the winter, there is nothing Vito enjoys more than cooling his junk on a fresh blanket of snow. However, like most of us, he is not a fan of being outside amid stormy conditions, so we had to force him outside to get down to business during last weekend's snowstorm. While we were all hunkered down, I heard Vito in the dining room, sniffing around the Christmas tree as he often does, taking in the evergreen scent and licking a few low-hanging ornaments. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw him wind up, lift his chubby leg and begin to urinate -- on the tree, on the freshly wrapped gifts beneath it. James and I saw it at the same time and were flabbergasted. We couldn't speak, we just looked at each other and gasped. In one swift movement, James heave-ho-ed Vito out the front door, sprinkling all the way. "Bad boy, Vito!" Needless to say, I had to rewrap all the Christmas presents. It could happen again as I've had to keep him inside most of the morning. Deadly icicles are falling like daggers as well as mini avalanches of snow from the roof and trees. So, to quote the foreboding woman from the neighboring active adult community,"Take heed."

19 December 2008

Snowstorm or Apocalypse?

If you've been watching the news this week, you'll know that starting somewhere between noon and 2 p.m. today, the blizzard from hell will commence.  It's just a winter storm, very typical for mid-December in these parts but it's being hyped as an apocalyptic event -- like a magnetic pole reversal that will change life as we know it on earth -- instead of just 6 to 12 inches of fluffy snow.  School was cancelled for today -- yesterday.  I had to stop myself from sounding like my mother who tirelessly reminded us whenever it snowed that she never got snow days, but instead walked six miles to school -- uphill -- in a foot of snow, often without boots.  Seriously, though, whoever heard of cancelling school before the flakes even start flying?  

I know all the panicky preparedess is a result of that storm last December that paralyzed the entire city.  It took James five hours to drive 12 miles.  People were running out of gas on I-93, it was anarchy on the side roads, etc.   But that was an anomaly, likely caused by everyone getting released from work early at the exact same time.

Still, I've totally bought into the uber-marketing of this storm.  I did my pre-storm panic shop among the crazy-eyed throngs at Hannaford yesterday, navigating my shopping cart through the aisles at breakneck speed before they ran out of bread (or Pirate's Booty).  I shopped liked my family was going to have to live in our basement for the next 25 years.  There was even a line to get into the parking lot at the wine store.  As I was walking in, a man with a shopping cart full of Bud Light cases said to me, "Watch out, it's like Pakistan in there." It was.  Still, despite the pre-nuclear war vibe gripping the South Shore, I'm kind of looking forward to hunkering down today, making a roast and sipping some vino in front of the fireplace.  

[Although I am very, very bitter that we had to cancel A Very Special Suppah Club in the city this evening (very bitter).]

13 December 2008

Break it Down, Chuck Brown

It's the Peanuts Gang -- featuring Outkast -- shaking it like a Polaroid picture. This video has been floating around the Internets for a few years and I can't believe I never saw it. Thanks so much to JK for sharing! Simply. Awesome. Enjoy.

08 December 2008

Behemoth the Snowman

The first snowfall of the year produced some overzealous snowball rolling on the parts of Caroline and Paulie.  Behemoth the Snowman, with his dead flower afro, lasted about seven hours upright on Sunday until a strong gust of wind blew him right over.  Minutes later, Vito the pug peed on his remains. At least he didn't fall down with people around. He could've crushed someone to death.

Paulie Outs Santa at First Christmas Party of the Season

Paulie was psyched but suspicious from the get go when he heard Santa was going to stop by Jess's holiday party.  In a full-on pre-Santa lather, the kids peeked outside looking for reindeer, their ears pressed against the windows listening for jingle bells of Santa's sleigh.  But then there was Paulie, the four-year-old skeptic.  Well, not so much a skeptic as an intense observer who can uncannily identify the slightest features of the most random places and things. And in doing so, calls the situation as he sees it.   For instance, he can predict who will be at the park because he recognizes the cars of each one of his friends' parents.  He can pick out someone in a mad crowd at Hannaford just by their sneakers.  He constantly brags to other people that he and his friend Bags have the same Spiderman underwear.   Earlier in party, Paulie had chatted with Jess's dad, (who is also named Paul) in the kitchen. He loves Jess's dad and said he couldn't wait to show "his friend Paul" the "Asking Santa" app on the iPhone.  Therefore, it only made sense that Paul would become the focus of Paulie's intense observation throughout the course of the evening.  So, when Santa arrived, all the kids lost their minds over the possibility of presents. But Paulie peppered him with questions instead:  "Where are your reindeer?"  "How did you get here?" "Are you Santa's brother?" But then Paulie looked down at Santa's shoes and -- like Shaggy unmasking the improbable villian on Scooby Doo -- pointed and shouted. "That's not Santa! That's my friend Paul!  Those are his shoes!"  We tried to prevent him from further foiling the situation, but as long as the kids got presents, none seemed to care if they came from Santa or Paulie's friend Paul.    

18 November 2008

Open Season

(A photo screams "1988" from the loo of the Ritz Carlton.)

Ahead of my 20th high school reunion this year, everyone was encouraged to sign up for Facebook as a way to reconnect, RSVP, receive info on reunion details, etc. Since then, I've become full-on FB fanatic. I'm fascinated, almost disturbingly so, by the whole thing. People who you were friends with, others with whom you knew on only the most superficial level, and some with whom you never exchanged a word are all suddenly in instant contact, sharing the intimate details of every moment via status updates. If one chooses to do so. And many of us, including myself, do. (The reasons why are best left to the analysts.) For instance, a friend from Latin class that I haven't seen in 20 years knows that I got my eyebrows threaded at a mall kiosk last weekend. I know my friend who lives in Australia has a daughter who likes to drink pickle juice. Others have shared an immediate laugh over swearing toddlers and debated whether or not it's ok to open the wine before 5 p.m. on a Tuesday. There are mobile uploads from iPhones and Blackberries of people's children, Patriots tailgates, the wildfires in L.A., and one shot of a stranger buying a vat of Purell at BJ's Wholesale Club.

Then, one day I logged on to find myself tagged in a prom photo that I'd never seen before. Seafoam green and big bows and even bigger hair. At first, it was as unsettling as the time my friend Rhonda scotchtaped a giant photo of Gary Gnu to my desk in sixth grade. It was open season on FB. You could hear warring scanners being fired up all over Massachusetts and beyond. I realized that while you can control who sees your information and photos, you have zero control over other people's photos and the inevitable tagging that goes along with them. So I figured I might as well just post my own. Some classroom shots and scenes from a Bermuda trip that could serve as a PSA for skin cancer. I've even made peace with all the prom photos. The one I posted here is a favorite because it's such an accurate snapshot of the era: Metallic taffeta, the faint scent of Herbal Essences hair spray and peppermint schnapps.

14 November 2008

10 November 2008

Turns out there IS Crying in Baseball (and in Politics)

Ok, I'm finally ready to talk about it. I think. It's been a week, it should be safe. The past few weeks have been unbelievable. Every time I started to write a post about the election, Obama, the surrounding frenzy, etc., I became paralyzed by superstition. I can't really explain it except to say that I didn't want to jinx anything. Things seemed to be going our way, why stir the Gods? Red Sox games tend to go south when I darken the doorway. I've been chased out of rooms during the playoffs more times than I care to admit. This had a similar vibe. I felt like Obama had a no-hitter going and nobody should talk about it or even glance in his general direction.

As a Sox fan, the presidential election inspired a kindred anxiety -- that familiar fatalism of "waiting for the other shoe to drop." After all, the races had been close in 2000, 2004 as well with a fraction of the passion. And just like Red Sox playoffs, the past two elections were heartattack inspiring events. It could never just be a blow out. It had to be hanging chads and extra innings.

Watching the returns last Tuesday night, I was waiting for the Aaron Boone moment right up until 11 p.m. when Chris Matthews, looking like he was about to spontaneously change gender, announced "Barack Obama is projected to be the next president of the United States."

I expected to cry, but not like this. I thought there would be a few tears, a little champagne supernova, and the traditional lifting up of Vito and marching in a victory circle. Nope. I completely broke down into a full on sob.

I was as surprised by this as I was to learn that I wasn't alone.

[Aside: At first, Jesse Jackson's tears pissed me off because I was afraid he was going to glorywhore Obama's moment -- pull a Peter Wolf, jump on stage and ruin everything. But I realized even his tears were genuine. Regardless of your candidate or politics, it was impossible not to be moved by the profound history of the moment. And I'm sure African Americans were moved on a whole other level that I could never fully appreciate.]

LPD said for us, it was probably as close to understanding what it felt like when the Berlin Wall came down.

In another way, it felt like love winning out over hate, where the country as a whole voted to "embrace the better angels of our nature," as Abe Lincoln once said.

Still, the tears were coming from a different place, it was more than just joy over our team winning, like it was with the Sox in 2004, 2007.

When I heard Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising" playing in the background in those amazing scenes from Grant Park, I started to understand all this fierce catharsis. Springsteen wrote that song after 9/11. It's all about rising up from the ruins, starting anew. I think the tears were tears of grief, or rather a release of it, more than anything else.

Even putting aside the epic failures and country-in-ruins, there has been a national 'tude in place for more than 20 years (I'm sure it goes back farther, but this is my memory). For so long, the climate has been divisive and mean-spirited in nature, a collective swaggering and dismissiveness that not only favors but celebrates the darker angels.

Civility and respect have become the lunatic fringe. Debate today consists of little more than a cabal of on-air shitheads seeing who can yell the loudest. Education, intellectual curiosity, and even decent grammar are reviled. Mediocrity is not only embraced but worshipped.

All the divisiveness has been spiritbreaking and silencing for me and people like me who are now so accustomed to treading on eggshells that it's become the norm.

I think Judith Warner from the NYT said it perfectly: "and for so many others of us, of the trampling and debasing of our most basic ideals, beliefs that we cherished every bit as deeply and passionately as those "values voters" around whose sensibilities we've had to tip toe around the past 28 years. The election brought the return of a country we'd lost for so long that it was almost forgotten under the accumulated scar tissue of accomodation and acceptance."

Of course, I'm hoping Obama's presidency will turn the country around, but I also hope his tone and positive message will help usher in a new age of civility. As we know, it's all about hope.

So, I guess my faith in humanity was restored a bit last Tuesday. We're not living under an asshole majority after all. Free at last. No wonder we cried.

That said, my eyes have officially glazed over. I will be detoxing from cable news, blogs and anything remotely political henceforth (or at least until January when we'll likely start crying all over again.)

21 October 2008

Random Quizzilla

1. If you could see into the future but could not change it, would you still want to do so?
No. If the future is horrible, you'd be miserable every day waiting for it to happen.  If the future is good, you'd dilute, if not completely wipe out, the joy of unexpected surprise. 

2. You have $100 to spend today but it can't go to bills, food or clothing.  What do you buy?
This thing.  Working in a basement all day with no natural light, I am slowly devolving into a pointy troll who shrieks when touched by the sun.

3. Would you rather have no arms or pineapples for hands?
First, there is some kind of pineapple theme stalking my existence. Yesterday at the Good Health store, a woman was serving up some souped up pineapple juice and discussing the health benefits of bromelain (which I am now well-versed in.)  Last week, I changed my ringtone to "Pineapple Head" by Crowded House.  Now this.  That said, I am a fan of the pineapple but wouldn't want one as a major appendage. 

4. Is it rude to photograph strangers without their permission? (Not talking about upskirting or anything of that genre, just snapping a regular picture)
I definitely think it's rude to snap photos of people without their permission but that hasn't stopped me from doing so on several recent occassions. (I won't post the pics here as that would be even ruder).  Last month, I snapped a candid of "James XL" at Lucky's, a man who was a dead ringer for James -- if James was 300lbs.  It was uncanny (and I will say the man was quite handsome despite his crushing girth)   Also, I was having brunch at dbar a few weeks ago and had to take a picture of a neighboring bruncher who kept interrupting our conversations with her painful voice.   I can only describe her voice as someone firing up a vacuum cleaner right next to your head while you're deep in REM sleep.  

5. What is your favorite fall recipe? 
I love all the seasonal stews and soups and such but have a new favorite side dish.  I made this Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cumin Salt a few weeks ago and it was crazy delicious. Worth every gram of the carb overload. 

17 October 2008

A Moment of Self Preservation

Oct 16, 2008: Deja vu all over again (and again)

Oct 16 2004: The burds boarded a party bus (in wigs) for Auntie’s bachelorette party. It was a traveling circus of sorts where we visited many of the haunts from our roaring 20s. It was also the night of Game 3 of the ALCS vs. The Yankees. With the Sox down 2-0 in the series, everyone was pumped up for the game which played on every screen at every jam-packed bar we visited from the Last Drop in Brighton to The Harp at North Station. Unfortunately, with every stop, spirits plummeted a bit more. When the Sox were down 19-8 in the ninth inning, the wigs came off. The sportscasters admonished that no team in history had ever (EVER) come back trailing 3-0 in a seven game series. It was over. We decided the only course of action was to increase booze consumption, dance our faces off at some club in the Financial District that no longer exists, and then stumble back to the Marriott Longwharf for the night.

A week later, I was lifting Vito in the air and marching in a victory circle, celebrating a historical comeback that made the Sox's first World Series win in 86 years pale in comparison.

Then it happened all over again last season.

Last night, they upped the ante again with "the greatest rally in Red Sox history."

It's impossible not to address the deja vu. It's impossible not to acknowledge those come-from-behind wins that were as euphoric as they were improbable. Still, I refuse to give up my negative attitude. It's all about self preservation. I don't want to stir the gods and re-curse ourselves. For me, "cautiously optimistic" is too arrogant. I'm adopting the mantra of a doomy, whiny Scooby Doo character: "They'll neverrr make it."

16 October 2008

Paulie on the MBTA

I Googled "train enthusiast" to see if there was an official word for Paulie's profound train worship. Turns out, there are several: Railfan, Zed, Trainspotter, Metrophile, FRN (Fucking Rail Nut), Gunzel, Grizzer, Gricer, and my favorite -- Transit Foamer. Definition: Railfans who work themselves into such a lather over the Choo-Choo that they literally foam at the mouth. This isn't a stretch. Paul becomes transfixed, possibly transported to another dimension at the mere sight or sound of a train. And trains -- specifically MBTA trains -- occupy his thoughts at all times. We'll call Paulie a T-Foamer. 

For instance, at any given moment he will randomly blurt out "Next stop, South Station" in a baritone voice. Or "Doors will open on the left. Thank you for not smoking."

To random strangers at the grocery store:
PAULIE: "You know what?"
PAULIE: "Wonderland is the last stop on the Blue Line."

To his teacher at school:
PAULIE: "You know what?"
TEACHER: "What?"
PAULIE: "The Red Line AND the Orange Line stop at Downtown Frosting (Downtown Crossing)"

Like Paul Simon, he knows everyone loves the sound of a train in the distance. And he is no exception. Every now and then, Paulie will hear the distant whistle of a Commuter Rail train rolling through the woods a few towns over. He'll pause, turn, and smile into the wind. Then say, "Hey Mom, you know what?"

If he could choose between a week in Disney World and day of riding the rails, he'd choose the rails.

When he gets tired, his favorite thing to do is zone out in front of the computer watching YouTube videos of the different T lines: Orange-Red-Blue-Green-Purple. When he clicks upon a video of the Acela, he almosts falls off his chair.

Who knew there were so many fanatical T- Foamer vids up on YouTube? Some of them make hobbyists like ham radio operators and the bus spotters of Glasgow appear casual in comparison. For instance, in one video, a man named "Jug" unpacks his video camera and a red thermos of instant coffee and proceeds to tape hours upon hours of footage from a single train crossing. In another video, some T-Foamer from JP tapes his entire Orange Line commute from Forest Hills to State Street.

So we decided to make our own fanatical YouTube video. We pulled the T map offline and mapped our course last weekend. Then we taped our little public transit party, leaping from line to line, inbound and outbound.

When we began our journey on the Commuter Rail, a mother was on the platform with her twin boys, also 4 (also mad T-Foamers). She said she was just riding into South Station and then turning around and riding back because it's the only way the boys wanted to spend the afternoon. I told her of my plan and about the YouTube videos already out there. She then confessed that she and her boys have spent hours behind the Home Depot in Quincy watching the trains roll by. She's certain the local police have tagged them as "suspicious." I was glad to hear we're not alone on this crazy train.

So here's the result, aptly named "Paulie on the MBTA." (Featuring fellow passenger Caroline, of course, who helped make the video!)

15 October 2008

Vito the Pug turns 6

("That's 42 for the dogs.")

Today, six candles will glow atop a birthday turkey or a cake made of meat.

10 October 2008

Party Like It's 1929

The financial statements have been rolling in, along with a surprising dearth of credit card offers: The mutual funds, the IRAs, and any day now, the 401(k) statement will arrive to drive the point home that we'll be working well into our geriatric wonder years.  I've decided I'm not going to open any of them. What's the point?  My satisfying but unlucrative career already has me living with a Great Depression, one-foot-in-the-gutter mentality.  For many years now, I've not only lived within my means but slightly (very slightly) beneath them.  I'll just carry on.  I just recycled my first green tea bag this morning.  I still haven't purchased a fall handbag.  My hair has offensive dark roots.  I've been clearing out the closet to sell off anything of even modest value.  Gently-used Uggs are fetching upwards of $200 on eBay!  My Betsey Johnson party dress with no place to go is now on consignment for $150.  So tonight, in a long gray party sweater (from Target), I'll wrap my arms around my 30-year fixed mortgage, order a boatload of thai from Wild Ginger and drink vino, vino, vino in the kitchen with some burds. 

07 October 2008

Presidential Debate Drinking Game

For many, it's been physically impossible to get through these debates without wine and Prilosec, so why not make it interesting. From the sophomoric, stress relievers of yore like Thumper to last week's fantastic game of distraction -- Palin Bingo, I bring to you, via the Washington Post, the Presidential Debate Drinking Game for tonight.

Anytime you hear any of the following words--it's bottoms up!

- Maverick

- Experience

- Change

- My friends

- Hold on there/wait a minute

- Great Depression

- Wall Street/Main Street

- Subprime

- Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae

- Celebrity

- Ahmadinejad

- Lipstick

- Darn right

- Bill Ayers

- Jeremiah Wright

- Keating Five

- Erratic

- Lies

- Middle class

- Ohio

- Will all due respect

- Failed Bush policies

- Affordable health care

- Osama bin Laden

- You know

- Exit strategy

06 October 2008

Thank God

(Manny who? LOVE this guy)

My anxiety level over the Sox has plummeted in recent years for obvious reasons. The passion remains but the stakes have changed.  Not so tonight--a massive toenail biter.  James jumping around, wildly gesticulating and yelling, spooking Vito and waking the children.  Worth it! Woo hoo!

03 October 2008

More Vito Video: Chicken

Vito is haunted by the aromatic ghost of some Bell & Evans' chicken nugs. Paulie had polished them off hours earlier but the lingering scent continued to plague Vito's psyche like a phantom limb.  He's totally convinced the nuggets are still on the table and he believes he has the rights to them if they were indeed left behind. He really got himself worked into a frenzy and my efforts to talk him down proved futile. However once I lit a sandalwood-scented candle, his anxiety level plummeted. You'll see it all on the video, along with a cameo of Caroline dressed in an Elvis jumpsuit. (which I let her wear on an errand to Trader Joe's this afternoon. I keep my promises

I Was Told I Need to Lighten Up

Maybe just for one day. We'll see.

02 October 2008

He's Come a Long Way Since We Used to Smother Him with Beanbags

My cousin Mike made this comment about his younger brother Marc who got married last weekend in a beautiful seaside ceremony that made all in attendance completely oblivious to the Nor'Easter raging outside the bay windows. During his toast, Mike, the best man, brought back some long-forgotten memories of what a pain in the ass Marc was as a child. Long forgotten because they strike such a sharp contrast to the man Marc is today. Growing up, the Moschella family tagline regarding my three cousins was: "Dawn sucked her thumb, Mike sucked his pacifier, and Marc just sucked." Mike recalled that whenever the family went to a restaurant, a park, other people's homes or even the mall, the outing would inevitably come to an abrupt, frustrating end, with my Aunt J yelling at Marc: "Walk out of this place backwards because you're never going to see it again!" One Christmas, my other cousins and I -- after Marc had ruined our Star Wars parade one too many times -- finally rose up to do battle with our instigator. It was at my house during the family Christmas party. My cousin Kaera lay down on my bed in a corpse position with a black lace veil over her face. This freaked out the six-year-old Marc in a large way, but the rest of us pretended we couldn't see Kaera and acted like he was crazy. Then of course there was the beanbag smothering which almost always (inexplicably) involved an 8-track of Barry Manilow's song "Jump Shout Boogie." Even so, Marc never told on us.

Last year when Marc & Eileen hosted the family Christmas party at their house, we shared a lot of these stories with Eileen and her family and they agreed that childhood Marc -- the one altering the brakes on others' Big Wheels -- and adult Marc -- the kindest, gentlest and coolest of the lot of us -- are two completely different people. That said, their wedding was both emotional and wild: a beautiful night that reflected on their marriage as well as inspired everyone to dance their faces off. Caroline was a rock star as a flower girl, which made it that much more special for us. It was touch and go for awhile there, however, as evidenced by her 'tude at the hair salon. (More pictorial evidence that we're screwed when she turns 12.)   So, here's the crappy low-res slidehsow of my pictures. There are about 900+ more pictures floating around out there that are likely crashing the servers of Facebook, Shutterfly, Ritz and others as we speak. Congratulations, Marc & Eilleen. We love you.

29 September 2008

Bastions of Moonbat Fashions

(Flower Child Power)

An outfit consisting of pink tulle, Crocs 'n socks and a fringe-happy poncho would usually require an "I Dressed Myself" button before leaving the house. But after someone -- in taking note of Carrie's clothing choices -- mentioned that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" (I believe the terms "dirty hippy" and "loony liberal" were used), I beamed with pride and chucked aside the disclaimer.

It may seem absurd to label a five-year-old as a "liberal" but having experienced this lunacy firsthand, I can attest to the reality and the madness.  It brought me back to high school in the 80s where being labeled a "liberal" had nothing to do with your idealogy and everything to do with what you wore.   For instance, if you wore open-toed shoes, you were a liberal.  If you made any fashion choices that didn't involve a Champion sweatshirt (tucked firmly into zee pants --hooyeah), you were a liberal.   

My friend N duly noted this bizarre fundamentalist attitude toward fashion was likely a trickle down effect.  Most high school students couldn't yet vote so many compensated by regurgitating the political adjectives and labels of one's raving parents, the majority of whom probably spent their weekends beating up organic farmers.  

My dear friend JS once looked at my feet and scoffed: "What's up with ya liberal shoes" (translation: non-controversial Sam & Libby slingback sandals circa 1987).  It bears mentioning that while he was offering up this style critique, he was wearing an acid-washed denim jacket with the phrase "Too Fast 2 Live, Too Young 2 Die" embroidered on the back.  There is too much multi-pronged irony here to even get into.  For one, the catchphrase on the back of the jacket came from a biography on Sid Vicious. It doesn't get much more anti-establishment than that.  

Then again, I once tucked my tapered jeans into some neon socks.  There was my seafoam green shaker knit sweater worn like a dirty slipcover over some footless tights (liberal leggins -- no Gs please) and the pairing of Converse All Stars (more liberal footwear) with prairie skirts ala Maria McKee.

Still,  I was more prone to label others with Breakfast Club-style stereotypes than attach an idealogical tag to a pair of sneakers, which still seems way out there in non-sequitur land.  I don't think wearing the same sweatshirt every day -- as a fashion statement -- made someone a "conservative," just unimaginative.  At least all of the fashion choices of the past were united in their hideousness.  As far as the future, if my daughter wants to dress from head to toe ponchos and tulle, more power to her.  

19 September 2008

Random Quizzilla

1.)  In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, write a sentence in pirate-speak.
Ahoy, me matey! Fetch me some grog from the bunghole. Aarrgh.

2.) Pick one: Butter, margarine, olive oil.
Olive oil.

3.) When you drink soda, do you prefer to drink from the can, bottle or pour it into a cup? 
Wow, really scraping the bottom of the barrel today, quizzilla.  I usually drink my diet coke right out of the can.  Path of least resistance.

4.) If you were a superhero what would you wear?
A star-spangled body suit and a cape made of feathers. 

5.) What was the last store you visited? What did you purchase?
Whole Foods.  Four "hearty mums" and an XL Allegro coffee.

17 September 2008

Brief Interviews with Restaurant Pillagers

I'm so glad I'm back on the blog because I'm vigilant once again about capturing moments on my digicam. Case in point, Gwennie to the left here, gawking at the undercarriage of some anatomically correct decor.  That's the real wine at the table.  
To kick off the annual migration away from hot dogs and linen -- -- we headed to the Scarlet Oak Tavern for a pre-autumn dine in front of the fireplace. Instead, we ended up around the corner from the fireplace where we were about three drinks away from having the wait staff place orange cones around our table.  Out of nowhere,  a rap sheet of restaurant pillaging began spreading across the table like jacquard.   It started when I spied a graceful gazelle sculpture in mid-gallop above Gwen and was immediately (and somewhat irrationally) seized by the desire to see this fine strapping animal atop my piano at the annual Christmas soiree.  With the help of some strategically placed votives -- I reckoned this sculpture would cast a reindeer-esque shadow on the living room wall.  I don't know where this urge to steal came from. I'm not a stealer. Even when I do the EasyShop at Stop & Shop, I'm a girl scout, even becoming smug when I'm randomly selected for a shopping cart audit.  Scan the produce, bitch, go ahead, do it.

My grandmother and her cronies used to pack their giant handbags to capacity with napkins and Sweet N'Low with zero remorse.  Then again, they were raised with a Great Depression mentality, the same one that inspired their recycling of tea bags and pantries full of processed tubular vittles known as "food sticks." (don't ask).

Of course, there were the drunken bouts of kleptomania in our youth.  I have an entire set of pint glasses from the Field in Cambridge. One time, PG lifted some stainless steel stools from that pizza place next to Copperfield's for no apparent reason and stuffed them into a cab. The cab driver even made room for the stolen booty in the front seat. But that's all bygones.

I couldn't explain this foreign late-30s urge to sneak that gazelle out of the restaurant and hide it in the attic like some latter day Greg Brady and his goat.  But I soon learned that many have gotten the urge at least once -- and have acted on it.  For instance, there is a galvanized potbellied pig parked on Gwen's hearth that has been masquerading as a well-placed decorative accent for awhile now.  Apparently the swine was swaddled in a sweatshirt and smuggled out of a Newport restaurant by her husband.  Does anyone ever wonder what happened to that blue stuffed talking parrot that used to taunt diners at Anchovies in the South End? It's at Dillard's apartment.  There once was a cool dog painting that graced the walls of the West Street Grille. That is, until Cameo tucked it under her arm and strode down Tremont Street, her clip-on ponytail swinging in the wind.  Perhaps the biggest kick came from my father-in-law.  James told me the two red leather club chairs at his father's house were actually rolled out of a South Shore watering hole many years ago.

On the restaurant pillaging scene, most seemed to subscribe to the tenet: "if it's not nailed down..."  After giving the gazelle a good shake, Gwen declared that, alas, our lean, leaping animal was indeed nailed down.  Our waitress came over to investigate the commotion.  Gwen pretended to inspect it closely, asking from which corner of the world this knick knack came from? Africa? Malaysia, perhaps? 

"Home Goods. Queen Anne's Connah," the waitress said.   Apparently the Scarlet Oak is teeming with Home Goods merchandise.  Since most of us are at Home Goods at least twice a week, interest in the gazelle quickly plummeted and conversation turned to a fantasy scenario involving Celine Dion in a crosswalk.

(Swiper no swiping)

16 September 2008

Separated at Girth


A neighbor driving by my house last weekend slowed to a stop when she saw me out on the front lawn with Vito.  She rolled down her window and I noticed she was laughing at us-- WTF?  

Apparently the woman's daughter is on Caroline's school bus. She told me that her daughter -- as well as the majority of the kids 
on the bus -- believe that Vito is not a dog but a "baby sheep."  They see him every morning when Caroline boards the bus and it's the highlight of the trip. I always wondered why all the kids jumped to one side of the bus to gawk out the window at Vito.  Now I know: to catch a glimpse of the sheep on the driveway.  He's been called "four-legged cotton candy," "an ottoman" and a "pot-bellied pug." I thought all this sheep talk was insane until I put up a side-by-side photo.  Look at how the bulky girth of both sheep and pug dwarf their heads.  I have to say those kindergarteners aren't far off the mark here. 

15 September 2008

David Foster Wallace

I was hoping to start blogging anew today, silliness and light, but then the news of David Foster Wallace and a few other things threw me off my stride and put me in a foul mood. DFW, one of my favorite writers, took his own life over the weekend. In reading all the postmortems, I keep seeing the word "inevitable" but I think that's a dangerous assumption. Writers point to his bouts of depression and the thread of despair that ran through much, if not all of his (brilliant) work.  

Aside: And let's not forget about the reader's despair as well.  It took me almost an entire year to read his novel Infinite Jest and I even skipped most of the notes.  

The despair in his writing betrayed his dark side, no doubt, but is that the whole story?Depression is a manageable illness. How does someone lose the will to live?  
I guess reading DFW with some hindsight, it'll all be in there.  Sort of like when I listen to Elliott Smith now and have those wow-I-can't-believe-I-never-saw-that-coming epiphanies. I have to believe that DFW, far beyond the reach of Wellbutrin, descended into complete madness.  I can't imagine how else someone could make a conscious choice to end his life at age 46.  It was impossible not to think about my 46-year-old sister-in-law who battled back from ovarian cancer and for whom every day is a gift.  And every day she makes a conscious choice to live and to live large.  It's tough to reconcile this afternoon. I'm irrationally angry. 

11 September 2008

The PU Returns Sept 15th

The Pointy Universe is back from summer vacation and coming back to haunt you like an Israeli kabob from mid-August. With minimal fanfare and even less revamping, we'll resume the same off-beat discussions on pointless topics and random shenanigans. See you then.

12 August 2008

Gone to the Beach

The Pointy Universe is on hiatus for the rest of the summer. See you in the fall!

23 July 2008

Rotational Neglect

"Rotational Neglect" is a term that KT brilliantly coined to describe the practice where in trying to do everything, you're never giving 100 percent to anything and as a result all areas of your life suffer a little. I've been deep into this practice the last few weeks having lost my regular sitter/magician while gaining two new work projects. This was mayhem-inducing enough not to mention the staggering social calendars of preschoolers and trying to find time to squeeze in some Griswaldian summer adventures along the way. The PU has certainly suffered the effects of rotational neglect -- perhaps the most -- because currency is a blog's oxygen. To neglect a blog is to kill it (zero flags!) and that is not something I want to have happen here.

So I'm switching gears from RN to Serenity Preservation for the next few weeks.

When I boarded the ferry home from Nantucket a few weeks ago, I was surprised at how territorial I was of my own peace of mind, of the serenity I'd earned during four fantastic days on the island. The ferry was nearly-empty except for some loud and annoying French passengers who -- despite having the entire boat at their disposal -- decided to sit on top of me and pepper me with questions about Cape Cod. They even asked if I would point out the Kennedy Compound to them when we got close to Hyannis. Serenity threatened. I was offended. As far as I was concerned, I was still on vacation. I excused myself, grabbed my bag and walked to the opposite side of the boat. I pulled out my giant sun hat, put my feet up and read my book the rest of the journey.

I feel like I have to do that for awhile. Unplug. Step away from the computer. That said, I'm going to take a wee hiatus from the PU. A few weeks or so. The summer is a sea of endless distractions as it is and I'd rather be silent than make small talk for the sake of staying current. I hate small talk.

Aside: We're in the process of finding a pup tent and decent life jacket for Vito so he can come to the beach with us. When that happens, I can guarantee there will be a video posted up here similar to this one.

In the meantime, it's only appropriate that my last post for awhile contains the crappy low-res slideshow of the Nantucket trip --the 10th annual! This year's trip was most certainly in the Top 5. Even with bony cheese haters along for the ride and Kid Rock's abusive texts, it was all about hanging with the burds and mainlining Coronas & Prosecco on the beach. Viva la vida! (BTW, I planned on using that song as the slideshow's soundtrack but thanks to the sphincter that is DMR-protected music, it was not possible. I think I found a decent alternative, however). Enjoy!

14 July 2008

At Last

(There he is)

Dylan James Haley reared his sweet head -- which will surely sprout a mighty 'fro one day -- on Friday. Per happy text messages and picture mail, all is going well. Congratulations, Tom & Dawn! We love you!

03 July 2008

Random Quizzilla

1) If you could move to another continent to just chill out for one year, which one would you choose?
I want to say Europe but it'd be impossible to just chill out. Probably Australia because you'd get to experience the other side of the world without language issues. It seems like a great place to unplug, not to mention all those puddle-jumping excursions to the Kingdom of Tonga.

2) Which browsers do you use to surf the Internet?
Safari, Firefox

3) On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), how much do you know about the history of your country?
Sadly, only 5-6 on a good day. While I know certain topics fairly well (certain wars, other events shoved down our throats in elementary school), my knowledge is far from comprehensive. Of course, I've retained all things trivial and useless like a song about Betsy Ross (inexplicably set to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic) that I learned in the 5th grade. Thanks, Sister Albert!

4) Finish this sentence: Love is...
...the best and worst thing that can happen to you, a simultaneously euphoric and eviscerating experience. All good. And so not.

5) What are your plans for the 4th of July?
The annual beach party/cookout with a big bonfire, baked beans, and street dancing with the kids, probably to a continuous loop of Rihanna and Chris Brown. Then, island bound for a few days.

01 July 2008


Today my parents are moving to a sweet waterfront condo that we will reap the benefits of for many years to come. Of course, they're in the downsizing phase which means they sold the house where I grew up. Such an event would normally send me into a downward spiral of excessive sentimentality, but it hasn't. I am (sort of) a reformed nostalgiaholic. I don't remember exactly when I had my epiphany and realized that all my whitewashed memories only got me into trouble, but since then I've been all about moving forward, and when looking back, doing so without becoming consumed by emotion. Still, with this life event, I anticipated some sadness. We went over to the house to help move some boxes and do some final purging of personal relics that had been collecting dust in the attic since I moved out 16 years ago. I walked through the empty, echoey rooms with 34 years stuffed into cardboard boxes. I looked at the sparse walls with tiny holes where pictures once hung, all too aware that Lois wasn't about to rush in with a can of spackle. I waited for the feeling to wash over me, and it wasn't nearly as bad as expected. I almost felt disconnected.

I think there are several reasons for this. First, the new owners are my dear friends JAL and Mike. I know they'll take amazing care of the place and we'll have many new memories there. Second, the house had gone through so many incarnations through the years. Every time you'd leave for awhile and return, the inside of the house was different -- some of the rooms rendered unrecognizable due to my mother's admitted addiction to furniture rearranging. Sometimes the dining room was the living room and vice versa. Sometimes the walls were different colors. Sometimes it took 15 minutes to find the relocated boxes of cereal. When I left for college, I knew my U2 and Cult posters were being peeled off the walls before I hit the Mass Pike and being replaced by watercolors and guest soaps. So, knowing the place was going to change again was really no biggie -- and I still get to visit. Nostalgia nipped in the bud.

But then I was blindsided. We headed over to the new condo where Caroline and Paul had set up a picnic blanket on the floor. We had some D'Parma's salads, enjoying the ocean air. We talked about how nice it'll be to have dinners here, how the kids will love the pool, etc. Then, Lois said: "Oh, we have a new phone number." I pulled my cell out to program it in and saw the old phone number there: 617-569-5438. It's the phone number I'd had all my life, the numbers that dialed home even when I no longer lived there. I was suddenly paralyzed by sentimentality and couldn't bring myself to delete it. It took awhile, but I finally did it. It was the old struggle, overcoming a connection, this time to a now disconnected phone number. 617-569-5438.

26 June 2008

Those Polarizing Pink Hats

(Red Sox fan and good sport Anne Houseman loves her pink hat and is no longer afraid to wear it)

Check out my article in today's Globe on the entire pink hat controversy in Red Sox Nation.  The message board discussion is a doozy as well. 

23 June 2008

Keeping it Epic

When taking in the SATC movie, the last thing you'd want to be part of is a cliched sundressed quartet click-clacking your way into the Boston Common theatre.  That was one of the excuses bandied about as four of us sat on the city sidewalk, conjuring some epic and soaking up the late day sun with al fresco cocktails.  Should we scrap the 4:55 movie all together and just plant it right where we were until our 8 p.m. dinner reservation? It was tempting. At 5:05,  we decided we'd better woman up and get ourselves to the movie, lest dinner -- this month's Suppah Club -- become an event, a vodka-drenched one on an empty stomach with shoes gone missing.  A very good call.  So, we saw the movie, which was what we expected -- four episodes in a row, meow, meow, meow. However, it sort of brought everyone down a bit, which was very unexpected. We slogged off to Ivy in a haze and were seated next to a bachelorette party with a giant inflatable pink penis (that had a face) as a centerpiece. Needless to say, it took awhile for our somber waiter to deliver the dirties.  From thereon -- all hopped up on olive juice -- it went all heroic and silly around the edges.  For whatever reason (maybe b/c of the neighboring inflatable and the fact that I possessed a video) there was an engaging discussion about this thing.  Absolutely mesmerizing.  The South Shore's proverbial American Beauty plastic bag.

18 June 2008

The Truth, the Big Ticket, the Answer

For many years, the only member of the Celtics I could identify was Paul Pierce, and that was only because of his terry cloth headband.  We'd gone to a few games in recent years but the only excitement among the fans seemed to be who could act like a big enough donkey to get on the Jumbotron during commercial breaks.  I felt like such a geezer looking around at these fools thinking that most of them were not even born when the team was all about greatness.  

(DBs in full regalia)

Then came the sounds of things turning around -- like this exchange between Caroline and Paul a few weeks ago after Paul mistakenly referred to Kevin Garnett as "The Truth."  

Caroline: "No, Paulie. Paul Pierce is the Truth. That's KG, he's the Big Ticket." 
Paulie:   "Oh yeah."

Treat these kids to a Duck Boat parade immediately!   

The last time the Celtics won a championship, I was in the 10th grade. That's tough to reconcile. On the radio this morning, there was a lot of talk about the spirit of 1986.  About how Danny Ainge's ability to create this team sprung from his being a member of the 1986 team. How he never became so enamored with talent that he forgot about character -- a great message that translated, albeit 22 years later.  
Then of course, there is the downside of winning: The DBs who destroy things.  When did people begin rioting out of joy?   Never, in a state of jubilation, have I felt compelled to uproot a mailbox and overturn some SUVs.  In 1986, (Granny alert) the only potential controversy around the Celtics celebration involved forged early dismissal notes to guidance counselors and some contraband wine coolers on the Green Line.   

I'm half inspired to excavate my moth-eaten "Beat LA" t-shirt (with "Sweet 16" on the back) from the shopping bag archive, but don't want to smell like a basement. But, to echo KGs joyful declaration last night: "Anything is possible!" 

16 June 2008

Tim Russert

On Friday, I was driving home when I heard the news about Tim Russert. I almost careened into the some hedges off 53 and had to pull over. The sadness is still here this morning. Someone described his passing as "unjust" and that seems the most fitting term. I saw a recent interview with Russert where he said the coverage of the 2008 election ranks up there among the most exciting moments of his career, how he felt it a privilege to be a part of history in the making. His spirit was uncontainable, like he couldnt believe he got to do what he did for a living. While witnessing history in the making is a privilege, recognizing your own good fortune as it's happening is a true gift -- the very definition of happiness. I hope that is a comfort to his family, that he knew he was lucky. And, in my opinion, nobody in the news business was more deserving. In a cynical, increasingly mean-spirited profession, he was tough but always maintained civility. Always. A true gentleman. There will never, ever be another Tim Russert.

09 June 2008

Boulos Turns Four at Humid Carousel Extravaganza

(Can I borrow a copy of your "Hey Soul" classics?)

Paulie turned four yesterday with much fanfare at the Paragon Carousel. After attending a birthday party there last year, it was the only place he'd even considered celebrating his 4th. We like it there too --  it's a quick hit -- 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., ride the carousel, sing Happy Birthday, pack it up, pack it in. Like always, however, the Nantasket rotunda was a house of joy and pain.  First, it was the swampiest day of the year thus far -- 90 plus degrees with all manner of species swarming toward the beaches, spawning clusterfucks at every turn.  Second, there was some kind of car show going down right in front of the Carousel which hogged up parking spaces, created a detour, and brought an audience of what one party parent described as "a giant mid-life crisis in a mesh trucker hat." Lots of full-body tattoos and blaring of the Scorpions.  Anyway, to make matters worse, this party was organized by the inept Jimmy & Kathy show.  As we unpacked the car --Spiderman cake, popsicles, coolers full of water and juiceboxes, etc. -- we realized we'd forgotten the Spiderman paper plates, utensils and napkins.  James and SAC quickly scurried to scrounge some generic, institutional replacements off nearby Nantasket vendors.  Luckily, the beach traffic and car show detour delayed the party guests a good 30-40 minutes so they wouldn't be forced to eat with their hands.  But that quickly became irrelevant as the pizzas we ordered didn't show up until after the party was over.  Needless to say, by 11:45 a.m., many of us were looking for something stronger than Poland Spring.  The popsicles melted, the cake was a bit congealed, and many parents experienced sweaty vertigo after too many go-rounds in the humidity. But, beneath the shady rotunda, all the kids were completely unaware of the MF mania going on behind the scenes. They came to get down. To them, it was all about riding the carousel until they couldn't see straight. They couldn't have cared less about solid popsicles and utensils.  Once again, a lesson in Zen from a group of four-year old sages.  


04 June 2008

Random Quizzilla

1) When was the last time you had 'surprise fun' ?
Surprise fun has been a regular occurrence these days from the early-evening beach hang to the mid-week sausage festival. Last Friday was another example. On a whim, JAL and I decided to meet up after work at LTK for drinks to celebrate the real estate transaction of the century that involves JAL moving into my childhood bedroom.  The evening swelled into a “sort of homecoming” gathering with endless plates of grilled shrimp and dirty martinis. EPB, who  is back from Down Under, is temporarily perched high above the Seaport in a corporate ivory tower. He and some of his boys (included two Owls) joined us as did Mike P, Cameo and Code Red. P also stopped by "for one" while awaiting a ride to his 15th college reunion.  But by 9:30 he was still enjoying a Stella Artois in a chalice "garnished with the body of Christ." After dinner, I had a very pleasant ride back to the burbs on the Greenbush where I discussed the phenomenon of New England Reserve with a very, very baked 17-year-old surfer dude who'd just moved to North Scituate from LA.  

2) What was the last email forward you received that actually made you laugh out loud. Who was it from? 
It was from Bags. The subject line: "Vindicated." It was a link to this article in Maxim where readers voted Wally the Green Monster "the #1 Mascot deserving a groin punch."  Needless to say, this write-up made Bags happier than a rousing match of lawn darts.

3) On average how good are you at keeping a secret? 
With other people's secrets, I am a vault.  With my own, not so much.     

4) When someone smiles at you, do you smile back?
Of course. Only a total DB wouldn’t.

5) Using 20 words or less, describe your first driving experience.5
Donuts in the parking lot of the Revere Showcase Cinemas

28 May 2008

Pass the Torch


On a harried and unshowered afternoon about three years ago, Nicola and I were pushing double strollers around Castle Island in an incoherent trance, bonding over a traumatizing evening involving FeverAll suppositories and cracking up, tears rolling down cheeks, over imagined sound effects. Back at Nic's, we plied all four babies with Goldfish and blueberries and lamented the fact that we couldn't even finish an afternoon glass of Mother's Little Helper. It was a time when we were straddling the ridiculously thin line between sanity and postpartum craziness, self-proclaimed “poor little bastards” with Boudreau’s Butt Paste in our hair.

That's when Nic declared that one day we'll be beyond this, things will be easier. "We'll be showered, sitting on our arses, drinking wine, and it'll be someone else's turn." Indeed, the ceremonial suppository torch was passed after the Bags' family's 2006 night with toiletries from Brooks but this past weekend at Jen's cocktail baby shower, we realized that the day has dawned. Things have gotten easier. There we were in the South End: Showered, sitting on our arses, and drinking vino as we watched Jen open gift after gift of bewildering babyware, mistaking several items for puppets. (“Exactly how many puppets did your register for?”) Nic, Code Red and I sat back in cockeyed rebellion, running a commentary like these guys, fancying ourselves pass-out-on-the-roofdeck hilarious. We've come a long way but are still capable of regression when in the company of Jen, etal. As she opened up some receiving blankets, I recalled the evening we took a corkscrew to a bottle of balsamic vinegar, having mistaken it for pinot noir. Then we considered putting Ollie in the Baby Bjorn and heading to Beehive. What a fantastic night all around.

Still --even more evidence that the day has dawned – a Memorial Day cookout at Jess’s house, a true Babypalooza, with LPD, Jess and Auntie fostering chaos on a baby blanket. For us, it was the first year we didn't have to worry about the kids eating pine cones. They were actually able to help out and party with the beautiful wee ones and enjoy them as much as we did. This also maximized everyone's enjoyment of the yodeling pickle that Bags brought. I had to Google it the next day to make sure I hadn’t dreamt it. I didn’t. And it sounded just like this. Best of all, in the spirit of cooperation, all mamas and papas were able to sit on their arses, finish their wine and enjoy some (with apologies to LPD) fantastically plump, moist & juicy steamers. Thanks Jess & Joe!

Enjoy a crappy low-res slide show of a superior afternoon.

20 May 2008

A Prayer for a No-Hitter and Tickets Gone Missing

(photo: Boston.com)

I spent most of the ninth inning last night in child's pose. James wondered when I'd become a muslim. I was reducing Jon Lester-related anxiety at the time -- not actually praying -- but then I figured I might as well while I was down there. I wasn’t alone, either. The entire crowd at Fenway rose up and the camera zoomed in on many fans with hands literally clasped in prayer for a no-hitter. A few weeks ago, I interviewed Michael Borer, an author and sociologist whose book "Faithful To Fenway" was published last month. He writes about the Red Sox as a religion with Fenway Park as the church. How Red Sox fandom is a unique form of worship and devotion, unlike any other in sports. It's alway been this way for New Englanders but since 2004, it's reached a fever pitch: The fairy tale endings, the dramatic come-from-behind wins, the term "walk-off" homerun entering the vernacular, etc. And then there are the heartwarming cinderella stories. Last season, we prayed for rookie Clay Buchholz who went on to pitch a no-hitter in his second major league game. Then, just when you couldn't up the emotional ante any further, enter Jon Lester. The babyfaced 24-year-old who battled back from cancer to win the deciding game in the World Series. Now this! Let's sing some hymns.

But still, Borer explained, our lingering angst is likely an enternal flame. Regardless of the overwhelming sense of things turning around, we’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop --so we pray. As everyone knows, Lester triumphed last night and our collective heart stopped racing. But if it caused so much anxiety for fans, I can only imagine what it must’ve felt like for him. A friend was recently talking about the element of loneliness in any kind of accomplishment. That element could not have been any more apparent last night with Lester. James pointed out how none of his teammates would talk to Lester or even glance in his general direction in the dug out. Even on the mound, with everyone at the park chanting his name, he was – as the forever quotable Cliff Poncier once said -- “a self-contained unit, a solo arstist.” Having the presence of mind to finish the game and not, say, collapse into child’s pose on the mound was a accomplishment in and of it self. As long as we don't get too used to it.

In smaller Sox miracles, we headed to the game with P and Maria last Friday night. Pre-game, we jammed into Eastern Standard seeking shelter from the awesome windswept rain until learning the game was postponed until the following evening. So we decided to go have dinner at Cambridge 1 (crazy delicious pizza pie) and then head back to P and Maria’s to watch the Celtics. We hailed a cab, but within a few seconds, P somehow realized that our four Sox tickets had fallen out of his pocket during the slow jog to the cab. We pulled over and he ran back through the throngs to see if he could find them. "Say a prayer to St. Anthony," he said, invoking the patron saint of lost things. He was half-kidding but the rest of us remained skeptical that he'd find them -- especially on a rainy windy night amid a major exodus from Fenway. But he did. They were lined up -- all in a row -- in the middle of Boylston Street. Well, three out of four of them, the fourth likely carried off on the tire of a passing car. Not miraculous, per se, but considering the elements -- pretty wild.

16 May 2008

Pissing off the Geezers

(New Kids, aging well)

Just a few weeks ago, I was so blissfully unaware of my own age that I unwittingly referred to a woman younger than me as a "cougar." Today, I'm all too aware of my own geezerhood. It started with the New Kids kicking off their reunion tour on the Today Show this morning. I was too old for them the first time around and find this whole reunion to be an affront to my magical thinking. My babysitter, who is 10 years my junior, was all juiced up, recreating some dance steps for Caroline and Paulie that she used to perform in her room when she was nine. I jumped into the fray and tried to bust into that New Kids/Bobby Brown hybrid dance move that LPD and I used to do at 19. Caroline immediately shook her head and deemed it "ridiculous." (Aside: James can just keep quiet about my dancing ability as I've seen photos of him from the early 90s and he looks like one-half of Kid 'n Play.) Keeping the spirit, Katie (sitter/magician) and I put on some PM Dawn and enjoyed some Milanos. She further showed her youth by sharing a dream she had last night about being on a date with David Archuleta from American Idol, one that possibly involved a double deuce of malt liquor. I continued to show my geezerhood as my dream last night was that the new Target planned for my town opened a year early. I was so over the moon about this that I was the first person at the store. And for some reason, everyone that worked at the store was wearing a red gymnast leotard. No more Nyquil on the Rocks!

12 May 2008

A Mexican Hangover for Mothers' Day

A rained-out Renegades game became a Mexican springboard of sorts for some spontaneity and long overdue Taylor time. Under the auspices of Mothers’ Day, we conjured up last minute sitter/magicians and --beneath an antique KPMG golf umbrella – scurried down Gloucester Street to Casa Romero (Cafe Rodriguez). It was pouring outside but down in the public alley it was all about free flowing albarino, cactus-stuffed chicken medallions and disordered piles of refried beans. Muy bien.

We discussed the Mothers' Day Q&A sheets sent home from school:

Teacher: “What did your mother like to play when she was a little girl.”
Paulie: “Nothing! She was just a tiny girl and she was very, very chubby.”

We sat next to two inebriated yet jolly young women -- relentless utensil droppers who told us four times they'd just returned from Asia. One of the ladies snapped our photo while giving a mini-lecture on flash photography. "That’s great, please don’t drop Chubby's camera."

We enjoyed our standard unneccessary nightcap at Sonsie where we proceeded to rearrange furniture and create a barrier between us and a gaggle of manorexic svengalis.

"di pa-ta-ta!"

"Say 'Son-say'"

05 May 2008

Random Quizzilla

1) What kid of music do you listen to while driving?
It’s been well-documented here that my kids stuffed some nickels into my car's CD player and cigarette lighter so I haven't been able to hook up my iPod or Sirius or even listen to an old mixed CD recently excavated from the glovey (dated Feb 2000/titled “Busmalis” after the character on Oz). So, I usually listen to the radio, mostly 'FNX, The River and 'BOS. If you're forced to listen to the radio in your car, you may have noticed that 'BOS recently changed its format. They undoubtedly took a cue from marketing geniuses behind 93.7's totally random, DJ-free experience designed to compete with the iPod (only if your iPod has excessive amounts of Steve Miller and other hideous strains of Redneck rock). Not good. But, BOS isn't totally random, it's totally 90s and is clearly targeting my demographic of nostalgic 30-somethings. Now, I can put on some old tunes, get down and wallow in nostalgia with the best of them, but this format is not working for me. It's not so much a feel-good nostalgia as an anxiety-producing one. It's like a Proustian memory for the ears. Driving to Dunkins, suddenly having an out-of-body experience from 1995: Gavin Rossdale's voice, feeling slightly anxious and hungover. Moments later, snapping out of it: Thank God that now is not then -- and holy crap, it's way too early for Screaming Trees.

2) When was the last time you were on a train?
Yesterday, we took wee brown ones into the city on the Greenbush Line. Overall, it was a very pleasant experience except for a couple of cackling ladies behind us who talked about Edy’s Slow Churn ice cream the entire ride in.

3) What is the most frequent letter of the alphabet in your whole name (first, middle, maiden, last, etc.)?
Frigging “A”

4) What is the last "silly" photo you took of a person, place or thing?
There are a several silly noun photos. Here we have BG and Paulie at the Playwright on Saturday afternoon. And you can't see it in the picture, but BG is wearing a donkey pinata shirt with "I'd hit that" beneath it. Fantastic. Other recent silly photos of note: intersection ponyrides at the local liquor store, where the hell are my glasses, and the impossibility of recapturing the excitement of the Celtics' win in a contrived post-photo.

5)Have you gone to any high school reunions? Will you attend your next one?
Just one -- a sparsely-attended 15th that was held in a windowless function room at an Italian restaurant in Dedham. Not if it's held in a windowless function room at an Italian restaurant in Dedham.

01 May 2008

Don't Get a Perm, but...

(Maria curls Edie)

Check out today's Style section for my article on the return of big hair and bigger curls. A photo gallery of dos, and a quick reminder of don'ts.

24 April 2008

It's On: No Excuses

The first of the final five episodes of LOST Season 4 starts tonight and toes are already tingling. For those who have never seen the show, want to start watching it, but deem it too much of a commitment: Good news. Blogger and all around good guy defective yeti has done the math for you. No more excuses:
"The final episode of LOST Season 4 will be #82. After that there will be two more seasons, each with 16 episodes. The premiere of LOST Season 4 was in mid-January, 2008. Let's assume that the final season starts in mid-January of 2010. At that point, 98 episodes will have aired. So, what's January 15, 2010, minus 98 weeks?

Answer: February 29, 2008.

So: if you've never seen LOST, you can start from the pilot now, view one episode a week (with 7-8 double-headers), finish right before the start of season 6, and see the remaining installments in real time, thereby watching the entire series without hiatus." Wow.

If you still don't have that kind of time, here's a complete recap of the ENTIRE series in 4 minutes, 24 seconds....

22 April 2008

James at 40

Our meandering weekend-long celebration of James' 40th involved much fanfare and an abundance of meat products. It began with what could become a mid-week tradition -- the Spontaneous Afterwork Sausage Invasion. Two simultaneous (and serendipitous) trips to the Smoke House in Norwell ended in a consolidation of cured meats, and the grilling of peppers and onions in my partially-destroyed cookware. Friends in the kitchen, sausages for the soul.

We headed to dinner at Abe & Louie’s with P and Maria the following night. When we lived in the city, we always avoided going into town on Patriot’s Day weekend because of the madness of crowds, the lines, the Marathon in town, etc. This year was even crazier with both the Sox and the Bruins playing, but for some reason, we couldn't wait to get in there. We decrepit suburbanites craved that collective mid-April energy shared by all who are excited just to be outside without mittens.

Shuffling down Boylston Street, we were stopped by a twentysomething man in a backwards baseball hat who asked us if we wanted to go see Lynard Skynard with him, then go streaking on the Common. Before we could respond, he started skipping down the street, yelling over his shoulder: “No sa! No sa! Welcome to Boston!” Ok. Then came the food. James had this Flintstonian Bone-in Prime Rib that caused rubbernecking from neighboring diners. We dug into our Abe & Louie’s salads, filet mignon and then a six layer piece of chocolate birthday cake that rivaled the PR in size. Wow. All told, I think we met WMD's goal of eating one's body weight in red meat.

We filed out with the entire place erupting all around us because the Bruins had just won and walked back down Boylston for a night cap at Excelsior. We had some really kind vodka that I’d never heard of over which the four of us planned a long weekend in Vegas, which will hopefully come to fruition, kind vodka notwithstanding. The next day, we received P and Maria's entire Vegas itinerary via email and tossed all the leftover meat into a steak and eggs scramble, wishing BG had been there to fix Bloody Marys. Then, the meat-eating tipping point -- some Lebanese lahm mishwe on the grill that afternoon. Jimmy and Kathy shall have to fast. And if you’re wondering what happened to the bone in the bone-in prime rib, look no further than right here.

Happy 40th, James!

17 April 2008

Random Quizzilla

1) On a scale of 1-10 how clean do you keep your car?
It’s off the scale, hovering somewhere in the negative numerals. Last week, the Volvo bus was late picking up burds for S.C. because when I removed the booster seats from the backseat, I found several layers of crumbs and random stickiness. An abandoned yo-yo was welded to the seat with lollipop residue. I can’t blame the kids for this as my car has always been an ankle-deep receptacle of clutter. Besides, my other mamas' cars don’t look like this and they easily could. For me, clutter has become a kind of unfortunate lifestyle. I was eyeing an odd collection of crap on the kitchen island last week: A jar of bubbles, a blue Spiderman sock, glitter nail polish, Vito’s leash and paper plate with phone numbers scribbled on it. And I said aloud: “This pile would never occur at the Bags’ residence.” And it wouldn't. It may be time to call in the experts.

2) With skyrocketing gas prices, what are you doing to conserve?
As a rule, if we forget something back at the house, we can’t turn around and go back to get it.

3) On an average, how much fast food do you consume?
Unless there is a dire craving, not too much. Right now, we're trying to detox Paulie off a KFC popcorn chicken addiction so he doesn't end up on a childhood obesity special on Dr. Phil(DB). Damn laptop meals -- a million grams of fat for $3.69.

4) What book are you currently reading, or what was the last one you read?
"Be the Pack Leader" by Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan. I've learned that, contrary to popular belief, Vito is actually quite balanced; he's simply mirroring my own neuroses. Baby steps.
"The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perotta
"The Easter Parade" by Richard Yates

5) What are your plans for the long weekend?
Jame is turning 40. Good God, man. Having dinner at Abe & Louies. I'd like to have a little cake in the kitchen on Sunday if the old man can handle it. Will send out word.

14 April 2008

Suppah Club: The Flipping Off of the Shusher

(Wait..didn't we just have Suppah Club?)

A late-March gathering made it seem that way. For April's SC, we headed to The Square Cafe in Hingham, a fantastic place save its utterly joyless clientele (more on that later.) Dinner got off to a late start after a phone call from Code Red let us know that she and Cameo had pulled into a gas station on 3A to investigate a "strange smell" in the car. It turned out to be the smoking remnant of a Heineken bottle, an automotive dumpling that some inebriated neighbor hurled at Cam's car last December. How rude. Crisis remedied, the table full, and SC in full-effect, we talked about about how Corporate America treats people like naughty little children, how it's fun being the oldest people on Facebook, and how the John Adams miniseries is awesome, but all those "Colonial sex" scenes are tough to stomach.

Then we got "shushed."

Like naughty little children. First, by two keg-shaped hags behind us and then a second time by a high-pocketed man who was probably the same age as us. How rude II. Never in my life have I witnessed such a thing. I won't get into the acoustics of the Square Cafe or the fact that were were a table of seven women or how the periodic eruptions from the bar area where people were watching the Red Sox were also shushed. Bottom line is -- it's not the MF library. If you don't want to dine among the masses, stay at home and whisper in hushed tones in your own dining room. Nobody was barking on a cell phone or carrying on inappropriately. At the very core of the shushing: Unhappy people simply can't stand the sounds of laughter and merriment.

As Mr. High Pockets passed by the window outside, Auntie gave him a passive-aggressive buh-bye wave. Confounded, he lifted his hand to reciprocate, but Gwennie -- not having it -- casually flipped him off. The shusher was flustered; he appeared to wet himself, then quickly flashed his middle finger and scurried down the street. We rejoiced, having chased away a restaurant bully. SC has a zero tolerance policy for buzz kills.

That said, everything else at The Square Cafe -- the waitstaff, the service, the food and wine -- was all fantastic. If they ever institute an anti-shushing policy for the rude and joyless, it'd be easier to become a regular.

In keeping with the "old people on Facebook" theme -- the Status of Suppah Club:

Cameo is...chastised for "smiling too much" during cheesy role play at a leadership training seminar
LPD is...wishing people at the table would refrain from using the term "heavy petting."
Auntie is...loving a good slipper.
Gwennie is...NOT about to be shushed by a man in angle-grazing khakis! .
Code Red is... wondering if they teach that shushing hand motion at Hingham town meetings.
Jess is...just going to drop and roll.
KJ is...is freaked out by wild turkeys

Some shots...

Auntie makes herself a little sick discussing the "many layers" involved in Colonial sex, corsets and such.

Code Red gasses up on Plumtinis ahead of her "old and cold" tour in Miami.

Fetch me a bowl of loud mouth soup!

"A tuna tar, a tuna tar, a tuna tar tar"