Archive | October, 2009

Wow. What an Improvement

31 Oct

Holy crap.

The new Star Market in Chestnut Hill (which opened yesterday) is awesome.

Finally, we have a supermarket worthy of the zip code — one that’s a huge improvement over the old one.

I went to check out this glorious place after work last night, after weeks of waiting for it to open (months, actually, considering how long the place was under construction).

Suffice it to say, the wait was worth it. Continue reading

Follow Me

28 Oct

It’s no secret that I love Facebook.

I enjoy reconnecting with old friends, getting to know new ones even better, keeping up-to-date-with people I know (even if we’re not actually “in touch”), sharing interesting items and news stories, and most fun of all, coming up with amusing status updates — even if many of them are just song lyrics.

Facebook has become nothing short of an addiction for me; it’s a routine, a site I check often throughout the day, and one I genuinely love visiting and spending time on.

Facebook’s a community site, and while it’s not perfect, I tend to find value in being a part of it every day.

And, it’s a site I feel I’ve become “good” at using.

And then there’s Twitter …

On the other hand, I’ve never quite understood Twitter. Continue reading

It Was a Beautiful Day

25 Oct

People often ask me, “Martin, if you don’t like cold weather, why have you stayed in the Northeast your entire life?”

And invariably, my answer is, “Because of days like today.” Continue reading

The American Way?

24 Oct

I was in Chicago (or, more accurately, at a hotel near O’Hare) this week for the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer. Great time, a very worthwhile couple days. But don’t you hate it when a nice trip is ruined by the ride home?

Here’s what happened: My two coworkers and I were scheduled to be on the 7:40 American Airlines flight out of O’Hare Thursday night, but we got to the airport a little early so that we could try and go standby on the 5:55. No surprise, we were not the only ones with that idea, and we weren’t so lucky. So, we decided to grab some dinner and wait. The weather outside was bad; it was raining pretty hard. But planes were still taking off, although some were starting to be delayed — including ours, which we learned was pushed back from 7:40 to 10:30. (Holy delay, Batman!) Um, that sucks, we thought, and we ordered another round of drinks.

A couple hours later, though, some odd stuff started happening: We saw that the flight to Boston scheduled for 9:35 had also been delayed, but only until 9:55. Why was a flight scheduled to take off after ours, that’s going to the same destination, leaving before ours? How does that happen? Why was our flight delayed nearly three and a half hours (at this point, the departure time had changed to 11:00), and this one only 20 minutes? That’s very wrong, we thought. Of course, by the time we noticed this, it was too late to try and get on the flight.

And then, around 10:40, we made our way to our gate, where we found just about nobody waiting for the flight. That’s because the time had been moved up to 10:45. We just barely made it! Given how rare it is for a flight to take off early, and given how long this one had been delayed for, why wasn’t there an announcement made over the public address system? How much would that have sucked if we had been at the airport for six hours and then ultimately missed our flight?

I can think of worse things for American Airlines to have done than to delay us for 3.5 hours, and to tell us early enough so we didn’t have to stress. It’s not like they kept pushing back the flight by 30 minutes or an hour at a time, and we had to sit there not knowing what was going on. And it’s not like we were stuck on the plane waiting for it to take off, or anything like that, either. And it’s not like the pilot overshot the runway on his way into Logan Airport. And, truth be told, it wasn’t so bad hanging out waiting for our flight; we ate, we drank, we watched the ballgame, and we had a good time.

But seriously, American. What was up with that scheduling? We should have left before the 9:35 flight did. Isn’t that what being in line is all about? And given the late hour and the few people still left in the terminal, couldn’t you have made a loud-enough announcement about pushing up the departure time?

And, because our flight was delayed for such a long time, aren’t you supposed to offer us a voucher or something? Isn’t that what most airlines do in that situation?

I know the weather and the delays weren’t your fault, but I still think you could have handled things a little bit better.

A Star Is Born

19 Oct

It’s a pretty exciting thing watching a fresh face in a film, and in An Education, Carey Mulligan gives the kind of performance that announces herself as this year’s “it” girl.

Starring as Jenny in a coming-of-age romantic drama written by the British novelist Nick Hornby, Mulligan is the kind of actress who commands your attention first because she’s adorable and then because her acting appears so effortless and natural.

She’s this year’s Ellen Page or Marion Cotillard, or to borrow an oft-heard comparison, she’s the new Audrey Hepburn.

Expect Mulligan to get a lot of love this awards season and be a frequent presence on red carpets. Continue reading

You Call This Love?

18 Oct

The first Massachusetts location of the chicken fingers–only fast-food chain Raising Cane’s opened in Boston this weekend on Comm Ave in the B.U. area, and because I was in the neighborhood — and I like a good chicken finger — I decided to stop in and check it out. The place was not what I expected. Instead of a menu that offers various flavors of fingers (you know, like BBQ, honey mustard, terriyaki, sweet-and-sour, buffalo, etc.), the place only sells basic fried chicken fingers in four combo combinations that include crinkle-cut fries, Texas Toast, and a beverage (some also add cole slaw). Oh, and of course, they all come with the special “Cane’s Sauce” — a condiment that no one behind the counter would identify or describe for me when I asked about it.

With such a laser-like focus on one food item, you’d think these chicken fingers would be good, right? Well, maybe it’s unfair to judge a place when it’s only been open for two days, but … well … my fingers were fresh — I liked that — but they were also greasy and slightly undercooked. The fries were nothing special. The Texas Toast, that was good. And the dipping sauce? Well, it tasted like a cross between Russian dressing and BBQ, and while I would have preferred a straight-up BBQ, it wasn’t bad. (A Google search when I got home told me it was a mix of mayo, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, garlic, and pepper.)

But here was the kicker about the experience: There are flyers on the counter with the “menu” on one side and the history of the place on the other. And there’s a pretty significant — and ironic — typo right at the top. Click on the image over there. Do you see it? Yes, that’s right: The word ‘quality’ is misspelled ‘qaulity.’ Ummm … oops. So because I’m an editor and I thought I could save the place some further embarrassment, I brought this to the manager’s attention. He responded by telling me about another typo on some wall decor that explains the chain’s history. Great. What does that say about the place?

Suffice it to say, I was not that impressed with Raising Cane’s. Food quality was average, and presentation was below that. The place makes a big deal about how it only has “one love,” but if this is what they call love, then I’d hate to see what happens when they’re not so devoted.

A Real Wild One

18 Oct

It’s hard to believe, but I don’t think I ever read the book Where the Wild Things Are when I was a kid. (Yes, I know. I had a deprived childhood. And I have since corrected this.) I can safely say that will not be the case when I have a son. Nor will he be denied the pleasure of seeing the movie Where the Wild Things Are, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers’ big-screen adaptation of the Maurice Sendak classic. The film is an often-beautiful one that is a real departure from most other children’s movies, and it’s well worth seeing. In fact, the older you are, the more you may appreciate it.

In Wild Things, Max is a lonely boy with few (if any) friends. What he does have is an active imagination, a sense of adventure, and a hot temper. When he acts out one night and disrupts his mother’s date, she sends Max to his room, but he instead runs away and sails off in a boat, ending up on an island that’s home to a bunch of strange-looking “animals.” Max is appointed king and declares, “Let the wild rumpus start!” The island is a place where whatever you want to happen can happen, and Max finds himself at home among the creatures — especially Carol (voiced by Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini). But of course, these Wild Things teach Max some valuable lessons and eventually he wants to go home.

Yes, the movie expands on the book a lot, but Jonze and Eggers’ screenplay does so in a way that doesn’t feel padded, and it treats both its source material and the audience (those of all ages) with respect. There’s a wonderful scene where Max and Carol are walking in a desert landscape talking about how one day the sun will die. That’s not the kind of thing you see in typical children’s movies, and it’ll probably lead to a lot of difficult conversations when parents are taking their kids home. It helps that Gandolfini’s voice is modulated just right here; his performance overall is one of the movie’s best surprises.

Max Records, who plays Max, is a great find. He captures the loneliness and adventure and imagination of the role, and isn’t cute or cloying. And even though he’s surrounded by creatures that look like overgrown Muppets, you believe it all, never once thinking they’re all puppets with people inside. The cinematography is good, the music (by Karen O) is alternately haunting and playful, and the other performances are just right too.

Most refreshing, however, is how well Wild Things taps into the real emotions that so many children have, and by that, I mean it doesn’t treat them in a simple way. Who among us has not felt lonely or angry, or wanted to escape? Yes, those are themes common to many Disney films, but here, it’s heartbreaking watching Max at the beginning when his snow igloo is destroyed, and seeing how he deals with his anger — and how his mother deals with it too. No wonder Max wants to throw on a wolf costume and be something (or somewhere) else.

Where the Wild Things is an impressive film, a classic that deserves to be seen by children of all ages. I can’t wait to show it to my own. I’m giving Wild Things an A–.

There’s No Shame in Losing

16 Oct

Well, so much for my clothes fitting better, and any thoughts I had about losing weight.

Yesterday at work I participated in a munchkin-eating contest, and to cut to the chase, I ate 77 of those glazed bites of, um, air-puffed sugary cake.


I don’t know exactly.

I mean, one line of thinking was that if I could handle Old Country Buffet, how hard could it be to eat a few munchkins?

But it was fun. (And then it sort of wasn’t.)

And what may stun you is that 77 only earned me fifth place.

Yes, that’s right. The winner ate a whopping 105 munchkins — and he probably could have eaten more. Continue reading

Tupelo Honey

15 Oct

I’m a fan of any place that demonstrates good customer service, so I thought I’d post something here about my meal last night at Tupelo, a southern food joint in Inman Square. My friend Nina and I ate there for dinner, and to make a long story short, her food was not to her liking (it was too salty and a little overcooked). So even though she had eaten about half of it, she said something to the waiter, and he offered to get her something else. Not only did he bring that something else, but he also brought her a side dish that she had asked about earlier but hadn’t ordered. In addition to being very friendly, the waiter checked on us multiple times to make sure we were alright, and always had a smile on his face.

The kicker to the experience is that when the check came, neither Nina’s original dish, the replacement, or the extra side dish was on it. That showed a commitment to customer satisfaction that’s pretty rare these days, especially at a time when many small businesses are feeling the pinch of a tough economy, and we were really impressed. And for the record, I very much enjoyed my meal. I had the barbecued half chicken; it was prepared well and was delicious.

Tupelo was chosen as the Best Restaurant in Inman Square by Boston magazine earlier this year, and it’s not hard to see why. I’d recommend this place and look forward to going back.

Singing Its Praises

14 Oct

It’s a couple weeks into the TV season, and I’m happy to report that I don’t watch as much TV as I thought I would.

For example, I fell two weeks behind on The Good Wife and Cougar Town, and decided not to catch up. Eastwick I never gave a chance. And Community I gave three episodes, and then decided to switch to Flash Forward.

Oh, and I never did work House into my viewing schedule.

It’s all good. I knew I’d never watch that much, and I never wanted to either.

That said, if there’s one new show I’ve fallen for and never miss, it’s Glee.

I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m scheduling my week around it, or refusing to go out because it’s on, but I don’t go to sleep on Wednesdays without watching that night’s episode.

And my iPhone is filled with the songs from the show.

And it’s topic number one at the office when I get to work on Thursday mornings.

And I share clips and articles on Facebook all the time.

And I’ve convinced other folks that they need to watch. Continue reading

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