Archive | March, 2006

I Got a Kick Out of Him

31 Mar

Sure, the show took place at the Opera House, and sure Jamie Cullum is a contemporary jazz-pop singer, but the concert this young Brit gave Thursday night was anything but a subdued affair. The first indication was the fact that Cullum walked on-stage chugging a Full Throttle energy drink. After that, it was the music that did the talking. And sure, it took maybe three songs for Cullum to hit his stride, but once he launched into “Twentysomething,” the two-hour-and-fifteen-minute show was on cruise control.

To single out specific songs as favorite moments would be pointless, although “What a Difference a Day Made,” “Nothing I Do,” “Frontin’,” and “London Skies” were all great, as was a duet with opener Brandi Carlile on “Rocket Man.” Cullum even did a fun medley of hip-hop songs (jazzed-up, of course) that included Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” and Amerie’s “1 Thing.” Perhaps the one obvious omission was “Mind Trick,” one of my favorite tracks off Cullum’s current CD, Catching Tales. (You can hear it at his site on MySpace.com.) I also was disappointed he didn’t play “My Yard.” But the stomping on the piano keys was there, as was Cullum’s ratty appearance, playful banter, and athleticism. And the Opera House’s acoustics made it all sound great. This was my first time in the building, and man, what a great venue.

It’s just a shame that so many people missed so much of the show. I don’t know what was up with the crowd. Every other minute, it seemed, someone (or two people) would get up and go out for a drink, or to the bathroom, not even waiting for the end of a song or an opportune moment. It was the most restless audience I’ve seen in a long time. And given the show’s location, the moving around was more pronounced — and annoying to those of us who were enjoying the show and didn’t ever leave.

Jamie Cullum isn’t a household name yet, and admittedly, his CDs — good as they are — really don’t do justice to how great he is live. But I can’t recommend him highly enough. He deserves repeated play on your CD player (or iPod) if he’s not already programmed in.

I’m Walking the Line

30 Mar

This year, for the first time since I was in eighth grade, I’m participating in WalkAmerica.

It’s on April 30, starting at the Hatch Shell in Boston.

Yes, this means I’ll be walking six miles, and I am not at all worried about that. It’ll be no problem, as opposed to when I did the walk when I was 13 and could barely finish. (Aside from my youth, the snacks along the route didn’t help much.)

Anyway, WalkAmerica is an event sponsored by March of Dimes that seeks to raise funds for research in the fight against birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Continental Airlines, whose inflight magazine I am the managing editor of, is a national sponsor (we wrote about their participation in the March issue), so some folks from my company and I are participating to support the cause and our client. (If you’re reading this and will also be walking, we’ll be the ones in the blue Continental t-shirts.)

I always feel awkward asking for donations from people because everyone has their own preferred causes and financial demands, but I thought I would just post something here in case any of my readers wanted to make a donation to support March of Dimes.

If you do, I thank you. Any amount is appreciated.

All you have to do is click on this link and follow the instructions.

As an incentive, my company will be matching any money raised, so a $25 donation from you is really a $50 donation, for example. You can also sign up to walk or volunteer to help in other ways if walking or donating money aren’t your thing.

Thanks again in advance.

Gone Surfin’

30 Mar

I’ve had some thoughts about different things I’ve watched on TV in the past few days…

* I love the new show Sons & Daughters. Best way to describe it is to say it’s like The Office, except it’s about a family. By that, I mean it’s funny in that painful way The Office excels at, and it’s not sitcomy (i.e.: no laugh track). My favorite character on the show is Carrie, the sarcastic daughter (or niece, I suppose, if you base everything around the lead character, Cameron). She always gets the best lines and has a perfect sardonic delivery. But, like, here’s an example of the humor on the show: On this week’s episode, the grandmother is taken to the hospital because she apparently had a heart attack. It turns out to just be angina. So the whole family gathers in her room, and the high school age grandson, who is a smart-ass but dumb as a brick, says to her, “How’s your vagina, Grandma?” Cracked me up. Sons & Daughters airs Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC. They show two episodes every week.

* The reason Lost appears to have dropped in quality this year is because of episodes like last night, which was another above-average Locke episode. His episodes are always better than the others (no pun intended). Cool stuff going on in the hatch. And it’s these kinds of episodes that make the “average” episodes (like last week’s, about Jin and Sun) seem not as good. And in other news, sucks to be Harold Perrineau, doesn’t it? His character went off in search of his son months ago, and hasn’t been seen since. And there’s no acknowledgement of his whereabouts, either, like no one cares. Are we to assume he died, or will he be back by season’s end?

* What About Brian?, that new show starting in April on ABC looks like it’s right up my alley, if not a little too true to life. Can’t wait to watch it and wallow.

* Bar none, the best news show out there is Keith Olbermann’s nightly Countdown on MSNBC. The guy’s got a sharp wit, and a great tone. And I love the way he beats up on Bill O’Reilly most every night.

* Felicity is the new 90210. Time was, I’d wake up on Saturdays and Sundays and plop myself on the couch until noon, watching the 90210 reruns on FX. Then they went off the air and I got a life. Well, now that Felicity reruns are on Saturday mornings on the WE channel from 10am to 12, I’m back where I was, lifeless. But I’ll tell you, when that show was good, it was really good. And Ian Gomez (Javier) was one of the more underappreciated actors when it was on.

* It’s funny how there are just some movies you can sit and watch all the way through on cable, and if you go out and buy them on DVD, you never have the patience to watch them. Like Pleasantville (which I own, and is still in the plastic) or The American President. Sunday night I found myself watching My Best Friend’s Wedding. All of it. And yet, if it was in my DVD collection, I’d never watch it.

* I’d mention American Idol, but really, what for? It was pretty bad this week, and Lisa Tucker getting voted off was no big surprise. And actually, now that Kevin Covais is gone and Chris Daughtry shows signs of vulnerability, and all the finalists seem so uniformly average, I’m losing interest.

Least Surprising News Story of the Day

28 Mar

Brokeback Mountain Takes Top Film at Gay Awards

Time For Some Change

28 Mar

On the way into work this morning, I stopped in at the Dunkin’ Donuts at One Summer Street to grab a muffin. Quick and easy. But something on the other side of the counter was amiss. Despite the fact that the register wasn’t showing the right amount, I had purchased muffins before so I knew to give the woman $1.50. When she looked at me with a straight face and asked, “How much do I give you back?” I asked her to verify how much the muffin was. She replied $1.37. And I guess Dunkin’ Donuts employees aren’t trained on basic mathematics, so she didn’t know I was owed 13 cents. But for a split second, I thought the choice of how much money I got back was mine, and I could have said I was owed $7. Or $3.60. Or $5.75. Or $20. Or whatever. And because her feeble mind couldn’t handle such simple arithmetic, she would have given it to me! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha … !

I Ate, I Screamed

27 Mar

It’s just past lunchtime on Monday and I can safely say I am finally ready to eat again.

Joe, Marie and I resumed our Ice Cream Tour of Boston yesterday by heading to Celebrity Pizza in Watertown. But it was closed (until “springtime,” whenever that is), so we headed back over to Cabot’s in Newton. Yum. Of course, this was also a lunch plan, so we all had “real” food first. And after a cheeseburger and fries I was pretty well sated, but I went ahead and ordered a sundae anyway. (A “regular” sundae, which I learned was not a small but a larger size. Ooops.) Mint Oreo ice cream, chocolate mellowcreme fudge, marshmallow fluff … and what the hell, sprinkles too. Mmmmmm … And if you’ve been to Cabot’s, you know they make some of the best, messiest sundaes ever. (That’s the marshmallow dripping off the right side there.)

Well, I took one look at that thing and was stuffed already. But onward I trudged, digging my spoon in repeatedly and doing my best to eat as much as I could. At one point, as I struggled, Joe (who had simply ordered apple pie a la mode) offered this wisdom: “You go to lunch with the appetite you have, not the appetite you want.” With that, I put down my spoon. Joe was right and I was done. And for those who keep track of such things, I had barely eaten half.

After we separated, I had intended to go to the movies or, at the least, to Shaw’s to do my weekly grocery shopping. But I was so stuffed that I sat like a stone and aside from pacing around my apartment, barely moved. I never even ate dinner. When I woke up this morning, I was still not very hungry. But now, I think I’m ready to eat again …

… If only I had time to eat today.

(And thanks to Marie for documenting that monstrous sundae, and my happy reaction before I got too far into eating the sucker.)

O for Okay

26 Mar

Went to see V for Vendetta last night with Amy and John. Good, solid entertainment. I’ll never hear the 1812 Overture without thinking of London exploding overhead (what an ending). And while I was a bit confused by some of the relationships, I’ll give V the benefit of the doubt and say my head was elsewhere and I missed the explanation. Oh, and of course, the movie has Natalie Portman, who I’ve become quite fond of in recent months.

V is a high-falutin’ comic book movie that aims to make grand political statements — “Behind this mask is a man, and behind this man is an idea. And ideas are bulletproof” is one line spoken by the masked terrorist, simply named V. “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people” is another — but there’s so much of that kind of talk that it’s a bit amusing when such lines are spoken. Another curiosity is the fact that V has this ornate and rather large underground lair, and yet the government, which is supposedly this all-knowing dictatorship, has no idea where he’s hiding out. And it’s not nearly as grand or exciting a movie as, say, Batman Begins, but seeing V for Vendetta is certainly not a bad way to spend two hours. I give it a B for … well, not for bad but for um, bang.

I Can Think of 99 Better Ones

24 Mar

Who doesn’t love the ’80s?

But do you love the ’80s enough to watch the video for “99 Luftballons” (aka “99 Red Balloons”) over and over for a solid hour?

If so, tune in to VH1 Classic this Sunday at 2 p.m. EST and you will have your chance, thanks to a $35,000 donation by a viewer.

Of all the videos in history — or even the 1980s — that’s the best this person could choose? What about Michael Jackson’s “Thriller?” Or Prince’s “Purple Rain?”

Still, for kitsch alone, that’s a pretty good choice. I mean, at minimum, it’s better than Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

(Hey, what do you want? It’s been a slow and not particularly blog-worthy week.)

Ace Is a Hole

22 Mar

I’m not sure what I’m sorrier for: the fact that I haven’t been posting all that much over the last week and a half, or the fact that this is a post about American Idol. You see, as much as I’ve tried to avoid it, I’m now completely back on the sauce. Last year I was able to go the entire season without watching a single episode. This year I have a series recording set on my DVR. Oh well.

So for better or for worse, embarrassment be damned, here are my thoughts on last night’s show … We all know Kevin Covais should go home. We all know Lisa Tucker will go home. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Ace is the worst one of the bunch. I’d love it if he received the lowest number of votes and is sent home tonight.

Just watch the guy when he’s singing. He looks like he’s shell-shocked. Like he was playing a joke, thought he’d coast on his looks alone, and is freaked out because he doesn’t know how much longer he will get away with it and when he’ll be revealed as a total fake. The guy can’t sing all that well, inserts his lame falsetto just to win a few extra votes, and just generally sucks. So if we could vote on who to kick off, Ace would get my vote. Yes, even over Kevin Covais, who I think we just have to live with for a couple more weeks despite the fact that he looks 12 and is clearly being out-classed and out-sung by most everyone else. Some folks make it to the finals just to bring in ratings, talent be damned.

And while I’m writing this lame entry, what the hell is up with Paula Abdul? Is she even watching the same show that the rest of us are? How can she love each and every performance unconditionally? Simon is right: this is a singing competition, not one about who looks the best or dances well. And If Randy says someone “worked it out” one more time, I may have to scream.

Who’s going to win? Well, expect Chris Daughtry and Katherine McPhee to be in the finale. That’s no shocker. Mandisa won’t make it, but does it matter? She’s better than all the other contestants anyway and doesn’t need this competition. And sometime really soon, Kelly Pickler’s idiot routine will tire itself out. Sigh … I just wish I didn’t care so much and feel so invested. And for the record, none of them are half as good as Kelly Clarkson was.

P.S. I’m loving that the send-off montage each week is set to Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day,” which I’ve been a fan of for a month or so, before y’all were hearing it on your radio dials. I told you that song would be big.

Feeling Blue

19 Mar

Damned Comcast gave me another faulty cable box.

When I turn on my television, all I get is a blue screen.

Because I’ve had some kind of a problem for about a week now, I’ve unplugged and replugged-in my box a couple of times, as I’d been directed to do before. And usually it worked this week, even if sometimes it was only briefly.

But today, the box seems to have completely died. I can’t seem to fix it, and I’m going to have to go to the billing/service center in Allston to switch boxes — that, or wait around my apartment for someone to stop by (no thanks). Continue reading