Archive | March, 2009

Digging a Hole

31 Mar

I got home at 10:00 this evening to find a big hole outside my building and a lot of noise. Turns out someone scheduled work installing a new water main for tonight. I’m not sure when the work started, but when I asked the policewoman on duty what was going on, she said the next shift was about to arrive and they would be there till 2 a.m. At least I think that’s what she said. I could barely hear over the sound of the drilling and the sawing of pipe. I asked if the old water main had burst or something, and she said no. Then I asked what those of us who live in the building literally feet away were supposed to do, and she said it would be over soon. Yeah, at 2 in the morning.

This is ridiculous. It’s 11 p.m. now and while the drilling and sawing appear to have stopped, the whirring of the machinery and the generator is still so very loud. There’s a spotlight shining on the workers that is so bright that I don’t need to turn on the lights in my apartment to see where I’m walking. Who schedules work like this in a residential area to take place at night, and at such a late hour? It’s inconvenient, it’s noisy, it’s disruptive, it’s unnecessary. This could have and should have been scheduled for daytime hours. And given the timing and all, it would have been nice if we in the building had been given a heads up that it was going to be happening. Thank you, town of Newton (or whoever is responsible). This is B.S. I hope I’ll be able to sleep tonight. And I just hope this work doesn’t affect the water in the building overnight or in the morning.

(No, I didn’t take that photo, btw. But it should sorta give you an idea of what it looks like outside my window as I write this.)

On Message

31 Mar

Kudos to the sales guy at the Apple Store in Natick on Saturday who, when I asked him about the release of the iPhone OS version 3, told me the standard line that he hadn’t heard anything about it and “You’ll probably know before we know” … even though it had been announced a couple weeks ago and will be out in June, I believe. When I replied that I thought it was already public knowledge, another sales guy corrected him and verified that I was right. But oh, those Apple folks. Always on message.

Just Like I Remembered It

31 Mar

After the Marta Kauffman event last night at Brandeis, I decided to swing by the office of the Justice to say hi to the staff, see what was up, and, well, loiter for a little bit.

It was a Monday night, which meant the folks were working hard to wrap things up so they could put the issue to bed and head out to decompress over pancakes and whatnot at IHOP.

(Or maybe that’s just something we did back in the day.)

To my surprise, the kids were welcoming and happy to have an alumnus in the office — a change from previous times I’d been there.

(Sigh. I really called them “kids,” didn’t I?) Continue reading

I Was There for Her

31 Mar

Most people who know me know just how much I love the TV show Friends. I know, I know. Who doesn’t love Friends? So don’t worry, I won’t use this space to try and prove why I’m a bigger fan than you are. I’ll just remind you that the Boston Globe selected me as one of the four biggest fans in Boston during the show’s final season, and featured me four times in the paper that year (including this time and this time).

Why do I bring this up now? It’s to help explain why I went back to Brandeis Monday night to see a movie called Blessed Is the Match. The film is a documentary about Hannah Senesh, a 22-year-old woman who was captured by the Nazis while attempting to rescue Jewish people behind enemy lines in her native country of Hungary. But it’s not the subject that appealed to me, it was the film’s executive producer — Marta Kauffman, one of the three creators of Friends and a Brandeis alumnus (class of 1978). I’m happy to report that the film’s good and all, but to be honest, I was there to get some dirt on the show.

You’ll be relieved to know that when L.A. Times blogger Scott Feinberg finished his Q&A and turned the questioning over to the audience, I didn’t stand right up and blurt out, “So when’s the Friends reunion going to happen?” In fact, because most of the inquiries were serious and had to do with the film itself, I resisted the urge to ask any questions. Instead, I let one of the students in the crowd ask the only Friends-related question, and it was one of the more cliched ones: Is it true that Central Perk was inspired by the on-campus cafe Cholmondeleys? This has been an on-campus legend for years and a staple of admissions tours. Heck, it’s even perpetuated by Wikipedia. Well, Kauffman put the legend to rest once and for all: No, it’s not true. Chum’s was quite different back in her day, and the inspiration for Central Perk actually came from L.A.’s Insomnia Cafe. So there you have it.

But Marta wasn’t going to get out of the room without me speaking with her, so when the program ended, I joined the hordes of students who had brought DVD sets and cameras and I waited my turn. While waiting, I learned that Marta’s all-time favorite line from the show was “It’s a moo point.” Then, as she started to make her way out the door, I finally got my chance to remind Marta that I had interviewed her for the Justice back in the fall of 1994, shortly after Friends debuted (true story). And instead of asking her that cheesy question I was thinking of, I just said to her, simply, “Thanks. Thanks for ‘Pivot!,’ for trapping Chandler in the vestibule with Jill Goodacre, for the episode “The One Where Mr. Heckles Dies,’ and just for creating such a great show that I still love.” She’s obviously heard it many times before, and she was in a rush to get out of there after listening to similar commentary from all the other fans in the crowd. But I said what I wanted to, and I was happy.

So, a pretty cool night for me.

An Old Joke

28 Mar

Manischewitz has added a logo to its boxes of Passover cake mixes, matzahs, and other products this year that says “Over 120 years!” I’m not sure if that’s how long the company has been in existence or how long the boxes have been sitting on the store shelves. (Insert laughter here.) After all, some of that stuff sits on the shelf for a very, very, very long time, and it tastes just about the same on day one as it does weeks and months later.

Ah, Passover food. So bad, and yet, so necessary. I had my annual round of thoughts about this subject today when I went to Stop & Shop to do some shopping for the holiday (it starts on April 8). $4 for 12oz of grape jelly. $5 for two cans of tuna fish. $5 for a box of cookies. It’s crazy, especially because I only need the stuff for eight days (less, actually, considering I’ll be out of town for the first three days). That’s why I always save my receipts — so I can return all my extra food and stick it to the man.

What made my shopping trip today a little more amusing was a (slightly weird) young woman who started to chat me up about how it looked like I was going to be doing some cooking (based on what? Two cans of tuna, a bottle of Coke, some cake mix, some cookies, and some mayonaise?) and wasn’t Passover such a great holiday, and blah blah blah. When I replied that I wasn’t such a big fan of Passover, she started to list out all the things that are apparently “so good” about it, like herring (yuck), chopped liver (yuck), fried matzah (not bad), and gefilte fish (alright, that one I like, but as I told her, it’s a food I can and do eat year round). And then she started raving about how great peanut butter and jelly on matzah was, and I said it’s fine for a week, but I’d rather have it on bread. Quite frankly, the only Passover-specific food I genuinely enjoy is the Manischewitz Coffee Cake, which is actually quite good.

But anyway … at that point, because she wasn’t getting the hint, I excused myself and walked off to shop in another aisle. If this woman was trying to change how I feel about Passover — or, more likely, trying to get me to ask her on a date — she failed. I may not be an expert on how to pick up members of the opposite sex, but I can say this: using Passover as your “in” definitely doesn’t work. At least not with me.

Home Sweet Home

27 Mar

A year ago today I became a condo-owner. It’s amazing how fast time flies. I wish I had some grand statement to make about the anniversary, but I don’t. It’s good to own the place, but to be honest, it doesn’t feel all that different since I have a management company to deal with the pesky details of building maintenance. And my condo was pretty much brand new, so I haven’t had to deal with any big issues of repair like some other new owners might. Still, a year later, it’s nice to not have to deal with a rent increase or the debate about whether or not to move. And sure, I don’t feel like I’ve fully moved into my condo — there’s still some decorating I want to do — but it’s home. And it’s mine. And today, that feels pretty darned good.

U2 … Me Too?

24 Mar

Thanks to my new job, I’m getting to be quite knowledgeable about email marketing and how to do it well. Today I thought I’d call attention to a way to do it poorly.

Yesterday I got an email from the Patriots that said because I was a season ticket holder, I was “on the list” and would be able to buy tickets for U2’s September 20 show at Gillette Stadium early, before the general public has at ’em next week. I was told I’d be receiving an email today and that I’d have to act quickly because “the best seats will be gone before [I] know it.” That certainly caught my eye. After all, I am a U2 fan and I love their new album.

But here’s where the sender screwed up: For one thing, I’m not a Patriots season ticket holder. In fact, I’ve never even been to a Patriots game. Sure, I’ve been to concerts at Gillette Stadium before, and I’ve seen U2 before, but nope. Never a Pats game. Whoever was segmenting the mailing list or deciding who to mail to just didn’t synch up the data correctly.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the sender didn’t deliver on its promise. As I write this, it’s now about 28 hours after I received the preview email, and while pre-sale tickets are now on sale, I haven’t been told how I can get mine. That’s crazy, and if you ask me, it’s stupid too. Perhaps the Patriots figured out I wasn’t really a season ticket holder and thus, I’m not eligible to participate in the pre-sale. Well, that’s not my fault. They still told me I’d been selected to participate, so I expect to have my chance. (And if that is the case, and they figured out their mistake, then they should have emailed to apologize and try to correct their mistake.) And sure, the day’s not over yet. But it’s now 7 p.m. and I’m thinking the marketing folks have gone home, so there won’t be any follow-up email.

I hope I’m jumping the gun here, and that I will get my pre-sale info, because I sure would like to see this show and I sure would like to have the opportunity I was promised. If I have to compete with the rest of the fans on Monday, that’s just going to be annoying.

Update, 8:45 p.m.: So of course it happened this way. At 8:28 the email arrived, and when I logged into Ticketmaster less than five minutes later to buy tickets for me and two friends, all the available ones that didn’t cost $242.50 were gone. Of course. But at least we had our chance … sort of. So I guess this post was a jinx or something. And now we’ll just try again on Monday at 10 a.m.

Sweet, Sweet Hanging

23 Mar

In I Love You, Man, Paul Rudd plays Peter, that probably all-too-common guy who is so whipped that all his friends are his girlfriend’s girl friends and he has no guy friends to call his own. So when he proposes and needs to fill out his wedding party, Peter is at a loss. His family tries to set him up on “man dates,” but those all go predictably awry. Then one day, Peter meets Sydney (Jason Segel), and his life becomes more complete. These two hit it off instantly, and proceed to bond over fish tacos and a love for the band Rush.

Led by the thoroughly likable performances of Rudd and Segel — who are joined by a supporting cast that includes Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Jon Favreau, some of the Best Week Ever players, and the Hulk himself, Lou FerrignoI Love You, Man is, to borrow Sydney’s term, delightful. Though heightened for comic effect, Peter’s predicament rings true, and the two guys’ chemistry just feels very real. To put it most simply, I Love You, Man is totally sweet, easy, fun, winning, and it just works. This is a movie that will charm audiences for a long time. I’m giving I Love You, Man a B+.

Who’s Gaming Who?

22 Mar

All is not what it seems in Duplicity, writer/director Tony Gilroy’s followup to the Oscar-nominated Michael Clayton.

Set in the world of corporate espionage, Duplicity follows Ray and Claire (Clive Owen and Julia Roberts), former MI-6 and CIA agents who team up to pull off a scam involving two competing drug companies.

But who can be trusted when there’s so much at stake?

Are Ray and Claire really on the same page or are they looking out for themselves, and will the plan really come together without anyone finding out? Continue reading

Zzzzzzzz … Hopefully

20 Mar

Apparently, today is World Sleep Day, and since I have nothing but love for sleep, I thought I’d mention it here.

I am excited and prepared to celebrate the holiday by going to bed at a decent hour tonight so I can get more hours of shut-eye than I have been getting the past few days. (Whose fault is that? My own.)

According to the official site for the holiday, the theme for this year’s World Sleep Day is “transportation,” and I look forward to being transported to a dream world where everything is wonderful and peaceful and fun, so I can wake up in the morning fully rested and ready to enjoy the weekend.


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