Archive | April, 2009

And to Think That I Saw It on Newbury Street

26 Apr

With all due apologies to Dr. Seuss, today was a great day to be out and about in the Back Bay area. Not that I saw anything soooo exciting, but the sights and sounds were nice enough that I thought they merited a quick blog post.

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the weather was warm, there was a pleasant breeze at times, a parade was going by on Boylston St., musicians were playing in the Public Garden, flowers were in bloom, stores were practically empty, outside dining areas were crowded, people were wearing less clothing … and I took it all in with a great big smile on my face.

This has been a really great weekend and it’ll be a bummer to have to be back in the office tomorrow. Continue reading

He’s Got a Friend

26 Apr

“I’ve had a few setbacks,” says Nathaniel Ayers by way of explaining why he, a talented musician, is living on the street. The same could be said about Jamie Foxx, who, after starring in Ray and winning an Oscar, went a long time before he found a role as good. With The Soloist, Foxx finally has a chance to show filmgoers how good an actor he can be. As Ayers, a schizophrenic, Julliard-trained homeless man, Foxx gives a moving performance. He never once resorts to caricature, and he makes you wish he took on such serious roles more often.

The Soloist is not a one-man movie, of course. Robert Downey Jr. plays Steve Lopez, a Los Angeles Times columnist who meets Ayers one day by chance and becomes his friend. He, too, gives an impressive performance. In a refreshing change from most movies of this type, Lopez is no perfect white knight. He’s wary of getting too involved with Ayers, and he loses his patience at times. Screenwriter Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and director Joe Wright (Atonement) don’t give Lopez some cheesy realization scene either when he realizes the impact he’s had on Ayers’ life, nor do they create a lame montage of reader reactions. Both are much appreciated. (By the way, this film is based on a true story, and on Lopez’s book of the same name. )

Like State of Play, The Soloist seeks to canonize newspapers and newspaper reporters, showing the lengths they will go for a story and the ways their work can be effective. There’s a welcome believability to it here that doesn’t feel forced or heavy-handed. Further authenticity comes from the fact that Wright uses actual homeless people as extras and in small supporting roles, not actors. And I suppose it should also be noted that the music is quite nice, even if it is mostly string instruments (and you know how I feel about those).

The Soloist was originally supposed to be released last fall, in the heart of Oscar season, but it was delayed. Usually that’s a bad sign, but not here. That said, the film’s good, but I don’t think it would have been a strong awards contender. Releasing it now allows The Soloist to get a little more attention, something it deserves. I’m giving it a strong B.

Get Out!

25 Apr

“Unseasonably warm” is one of my favorite phrases, and I’ve been hearing it a lot in the past couple days because temperatures are in the 70s and 80s this weekend.

You know, people who live in cities that are warm year-round (like Los Angeles) often kid me about why I stay in Boston when it’s so cold in the winter.

Invariably, I tell them it’s because of days and weekends like this.

When, after a long, cold, snowy winter, the weather finally gets warm and sunny, and we have our first taste of spring (or, in this case, summer) weather.

Everyone goes outside, has a smile on their face, and is just happy.

You dig the shorts out from your dresser drawers and put on a short-sleeve shirt, maybe also some flip-flops.

You go for a walk, or maybe you get in the car, put the windows down, and turn the radio up.

There are lines at ice cream places.

The malls are empty.

The Red Sox are winning.

And it’s awesome.

When you’ve not had warm days like this in so long, you just appreciate them more.

Last night I got out of work a little early, got home, changed into a pair of shorts, and went for a walk around the reservoir over here by Cleveland Circle.

All kinds of people were out. I even bumped into some friends.

The sky was blue, the air was warm, I had my iPod on, I was getting some exercise, and it all felt really good.

I’ll probably make another couple loops today (at least) and a couple more tomorrow.

I love spring in Boston.

Really, why would I want to live anywhere else?

This One Was For Us

23 Apr

Where to start about night two of Bruce Springsteen’s two-night homestand at the TD Banknorth Garden?

The show was longer (just about exactly three hours); it had more of an emphasis on his older, less mainstream material; the band covered “I Wanna Be Sedated”; I had a better seat; and man oh man, can that Jay Weinberg play!

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Dropkick Murphys joined Bruce on stage for the encore, amping up an already boisterous “American Land.”

Oh, and did I mention Jay Weinberg and his amazing skills on the drums?

Wow. Continue reading

Meet Him in the Land of Hope and Dreams

22 Apr

“I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side,” Bruce Springsteen sang at one point during his show Tuesday night at the TD Banknorth Garden. “You’ll need a good companion for this part of the ride.”

Over the course of almost three hours, Springsteen was that companion, taking the audience through hard times and to salvation, raising us up on his shoulders, and showing us that there are brighter days ahead.

As always, it was a thrilling, exciting, exhausting show, one that was light on promotion for his latest album and heavier on barn burning revivalism. Continue reading

Born to (watch runners) Run

20 Apr

I know people in New York and Chicago brag about their races, but for my money, there’s no better marathon than the one here in Boston.

I just love the communal feel of the day, and the way the route snakes through the suburbs before finally ending at Copley Square.

That allows people everywhere to really be a part of the race and make it a festive, fun day, even if you’re not running. Continue reading

I Scream

20 Apr

Wanted to give you a heads up that tomorrow is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s. This annual, well, holiday is one of the most exciting days of the year, and I’m already looking forward to my free scoop of Phish Food. Or will it be Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough? Or Chocolate Therapy? The choices are almost overwhelming. I may have to go back twice. Or three times.

Of course, Ben & Jerry’s isn’t the only place giving out ice cream in the next few days. Next Wednesday, April 29, Baskin-Robbins is having its annual 31-cent Scoop Night, where you can get yourself some yummy ice cream for almost nothing, and support a good cause too (all the proceeds go to the National Volunteer Fire Council National Junior Firefighter Program).

So … start saving your appetite, get your spoon ready, and save me a place in line!

Loving Lily

20 Apr

From the moment she first appeared Sunday night on the stage of the House of Blues, wearing a low-cut red onesie, sneakers, and a red Red Sox cap tilted to the side, Lily Allen made it clear that she had come to Boston to have a good time. She even wore red socks as a tribute to her host city, and promised a “wicked pissah,” even though she clearly had no idea what that meant.

But no matter.

In just under an hour and a half, Lily Allen gave all in attendance a great show that was big on fun and big on attitude — but with plenty of talent too. Continue reading

Not Joining the Chorus

19 Apr

I haven’t exactly joined the Susan Boyle bandwagon this week, though a few of my friends have been trying to get me there. Still, I enjoyed this mashup of the media coverage that put together and thought I’d share.

Runners, Take Your Mark …

19 Apr

Tomorrow is Patriots’ Day here in Massachusetts (one of my favorite days of the year), and in the city, it’s the day of the Marathon.

For the second year, I’ll be watching right outside my condo here at B.C., and I can’t wait. Continue reading

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