Archive | June, 2007

Wrong Man, Wrong Time, Wrong Movie

30 Jun

Not much really needs to be said about Live Free or Die Hard.

It’s the worst of the four Die Hard movies, and actually, it doesn’t really feel like a Die Hard movie at all.

Rather, it’s like there was a buddy action script out there that Bruce Willis was attached to, and they made it into a Die Hard movie. Continue reading

The Day After

30 Jun

Since I was in the vicinity of an Apple Store today, I decided to stop in at the Burlington Mall and see the iPhone for myself.

Big mistake.

Huge.

Not because the lines were so long or because the crowds were so off-putting, or even because the store had run out of them. None of that was the case.

No, it was a mistake because I’ve been hearing the buzz on the thing since CES and had read so many rapturous reviews and articles over the past week, and now that I actually had one in my hands and was having such a good time playing with it, all I could say was instead of simply wanting one, now I really wanted one. Continue reading

D’Oh!

29 Jun

If I was a character on The Simpsons (and didn’t wear glasses), this is what I’d look like. At least that’s what the web site for the upcoming Simpsons movie thinks. Try it for yourself: go to SimpsonsMovie.com and click on “Create Your Simpsons Avatar.”

(Barely) Working for the Weekend

29 Jun

Today is one of those days.

It’s Friday, the end of the cycle for the monthly magazine I work on, the last day before a “holiday week,” and while there are a few pesky things on my to-do list, I’m not so busy that I’m feeling overwhelmed.

Usually it’s busier weeks when I’m more productive; when there’s not as much to do, I tend to do it at a slower pace.

Somewhere, there are folks already lined up to buy their iPhones. I sort of wish I was with them — I so want one — but I think I’m going to hold off on buying one for a bit, if I can.

I’m feeling lazy today. I’m easily distracted. The office is quiet and it’s making me more antsy.

I’ve got big weekend plans and I can’t wait.

As the song goes, I don’t want to work, I just want to bang on the drum all day.

Is it 5:00 yet?

Calling Dr. Ferber …

28 Jun

Nothing says “Good morning” quite like riding to work on the T — and a warm T at that — with a crying baby. I got a nice Parenting 101 lesson from two mothers who shared the C line with me today. Both women had babies in strollers (and I’m assuming they were friends, because although they weren’t really talking to each other all that much, they stood next to each other as if they were traveling together). But whereas one child was well behaved and quiet and happy, the other was clearly, um, not. At some point as we traveled down Beacon St., this child began to cry. (I didn’t see why.) And not just a whimper, but a full-on wail. So what’d the mother of this child do? First she tried to hug the child while it was still strapped into the stroller. Then, when that didn’t work, she took it out of the stroller and sat holding it in a seat, practically smothering it. Still, no change. And all through the underground stops — from Kenmore to Hynes to Copley to Arlington to Boylston — the kid just cried and cried and cried. And cried. Amazingly, the other kid remained silent the entire way, seemingly content in its stroller. Finally, when we pulled into Park Street, the mother put the child back into the stroller, whereupon it put its thumb into its mouth and stopped crying. Just like that. And just in time for me to get off the train.

So apparently, if you want a child to shut up and not disturb fellow passengers on the T, the trick is to leave it be. I’ll remember that. And I hope other mothers do too.

Happy Summer, Y’all

26 Jun

Ninety-degree-plus days mean one thing to me: ice cream.

And so because my walk home through Coolidge Corner means walking right by J.P. Licks, I decided to stop for dinner on the way home (at Quiznos) so I could get some ice cream as I walked down the street.

One bad sandwich later, I got to J.P. Licks. Sort of. The line was so long that it stretched the full length of the store, out the door, and down Harvard Ave. past the entrance to the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse.

That’s a long line.

But I was determined, so I got in line and worked my way to the front. Continue reading

Take This ‘Job’ and Read It

25 Jun

I’m always happy to support a new blog on the scene, especially when it’s one written by someone as cool as Erin Pullen (who made the unfortunate mistake of marrying my former work bud, JPP — just kidding, John). Erin’s blog, titled simply “The Day Job Blog,” is all about those people out there who toil away at a day job (office admin, waitress, retail salesperson, or sign holder, like on Sunday night’s Flight of the Conchords) so they can fund their real career, be it painter, writer, actor, or, in Erin’s case, opera singer.

According to JPP’s description of the site, we’re all voyeuristic and obsessed with celebrities, so why not document how these people become famous by showing all the hard work that goes into it? “Yes, without these 9–5ers, young sparkling would-bes would become never-wases, because auditions charge fees, gym memberships cost money, and lessons and training don’t grow on trees,” John told me. “So Erin decided to explore this phenomenon of ‘dumb job as means of getting dream job’ for a book.” Erin’s hoping that if she attracts enough regular readers to her site, she’ll attract the interest of a publisher, and the rest will fall into place (sort of like how Planet Gordon begat The Engaged Groom). Every day there’ll be a new story about someone else’s day job, so keep clicking on it; there’s a link in the margin on the right side of this blog. Check it out.

Under Pressure

24 Jun

One thing I’ve come to really like about traveling is that it gives me a couple hours to get deep into whatever book I’m reading.

(Yeah, look at me, turning into a regular bookworm.)

This weekend I flew to New York for my second cousin’s bris, and by the time I landed back in Boston Sunday night, I was more than halfway done with my new book, Cabin Pressure, by Josh Wolk. Continue reading

Mighty Good

21 Jun

Like the woman at its center, A Mighty Heart has a real quiet dignity. Which is not to say it’s a quiet movie, but it’s not a big, showy one, and it’s not exactly the kind of movie you enjoy — which makes it perfect counter-programming in a season of blockbusters — but the way it deals with its subject matter with grace and humanity only helps its cause.

Basically, A Mighty Heart tells the story of the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl from the perspective of his wife, Mariane. It’s been filmed with handheld cameras in a documentary, you-are-there fashion, which gives it a real sense of immediacy and realism. There isn’t a score playing underneath the action to tell you how to feel, and there aren’t grand speeches about the horrible people who have done this to Pearl. There’s not even a re-enactment of what happened to Pearl when or while he was kidnapped. There’s just a group of Americans and Pakistanis working together and taking action to save him before it’s too late.

Of course, we all know what happened to Daniel Pearl, which makes the film somewhat frustrating. I would have thought that maybe half or two-thirds of A Mighty Heart would have been spent on the kidnapping and the rest would have been spent on Mariane’s struggle afterward, and how she handled it. Instead, we generally see her sitting around a table, trying to hold herself together and stay positive, trying to save face in what is certainly a devastating situation, gazing at pictures of Pearl that have been sent from the kidnappers as if they were wedding pictures, and basically waiting for her husband to come home. Which, sure, demonstrates her grace under fire. But it doesn’t adequately convey how she dealt with her husband’s brutal death in a heroic and positive way, thus giving relevance to the film’s title, and I wish more time had been spent on that.

That all said, I think A Mighty Heart is certainly worth seeing. As a document of how these people tried to save Pearl, for all their varied reasons, it is very good. And Angelina Jolie definitely gives an effective performance; race issues aside, given Jolie’s very public efforts to better the world, the role of Mariane Pearl seems to fit her like a glove. Thankfully, she doesn’t make the movie about her (ie: Angelina) and lets Mariane’s quiet actions speak for themselves.

Mariane might be pregnant in this movie, but A Mighty Heart is no Knocked Up. If you can deal with that, and you have a tissue handy, then you’ll likely find A Mighty Heart worthwhile. I’m giving it a B+.

Not Two Good

19 Jun

It’s the most expensive comedy ever made, but Evan Almighty is certainly not the most hilarious one. Steve Carrell stars as Evan Baxter, last seen as a befuddled news anchor in Buffalo, N.Y. In the time between Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty, Evan’s gone and grown a spine, gotten married, and had two kids. And now he’s won a seat in Congress, so he packs up the family and moves to the D.C. suburbs, where he’s a pawn in a hungry Congressman’s bad-for-the-environment plan and a delinquent dad. Enter God (Morgan Freeman, still the best possible casting for the role), who tells Evan to build an ark because there’s going to be a flood. He even gives him tools and wood, courtesy of 1-800-GO-4-WOOD. Soon, pairs of animals appear and Evan finds shaving is futile. Yadda yadda yadda. Evan is a total high-concept comedy, and appropriately, there are plenty of sight gags about animals helping to build the ark, about Evan’s basic Biblical wardrobe, and generally anything sight-gag-able. And some of it is goofy and silly, in a good way. It’s pretty funny watching the ark sail down the Mall in Washington, D.C., for example. And some of the movie is expectedly cute. But to its credit, there’s not a groan or a cringe to be had. Carrell and the cast try their hardest to wring some kind of quality from the material, and they don’t embarrass themselves. And just in case, there’s also Jonah Hill (from Knocked Up), who provides some laughs, and Wanda Sykes, who is always there with an easy one-liner. But if you want real Noah’s Ark–related humor, you’re better off listening to Bill Cosby’s classic skit. Evan Almighty is no miracle, but it’s hardly the disaster it could have been. It’s going to play really well on cable. So I’m giving Evan Almighty a B–.