Archive | June, 2010

How Far I’ve Come

30 Jun

I’ve been spending a bit of time lately with the me I used to be.

Freshman year of high school, my English teacher, Mr. Montgomery, assigned us a class project to begin keeping journals.

I was so into it that when the official assignment was over, I kept on writing for myself.

I checked in almost daily, beginning each entry with “Hey Mont,” which was what I always said when I walked into class or saw him in the hall.

I wrote in my journal all through high school (and over the summers), and when I left for college in the fall of 1992, I left behind eight notebooks that pretty much documented my life over those four years. As you might imagine, it’s something I’m really proud of.

The collection (plus a couple of failed restarts) is one of my most significant possessions. Continue reading

A Life in Progress

29 Jun

It’s unfortunate but true to say that over the years, Joan Rivers has been reduced to a caricature. Between her “Can we tawk?” catchphrase, her jewelry-hawking on QVC, her plastic surgery, and her award-show red carpet interviews, it’s gotten hard to take Joan seriously anymore.

And yet, at age 75, Joan’s still around.

Not only that, she’s riding another wave of popularity.

What’s her secret to success? Well, as we learn in the new documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, it’s simply hard work. Continue reading

A Mea Culpa

28 Jun

Nearly two years ago on this blog, I wrote that I had tried every pizza and sandwich shop in Cleveland Circle, and all of them had failed to impress me. Well, I need to apologize, because since then, I’ve become quite a fan of Pino’s.

It started when my sister, brother-in-law, and niece were here in December and we wanted to grab some pizza for lunch. I settled for Pino’s because it was closest to me, but was pleasantly surprised by the pie. Since then, I’ve gone back many times and have never been disappointed. The dough is great, the cheese never runny, and the slices are always served at a perfect temperature. I’m no food critic, but I know what good pizza tastes like. In fact, I dare say the pizza at Pino’s is just as good as the pizza at T. Anthony’s, my other favorite local pizza joint.

So consider this a second apology. I apologized to Eagle’s Deli soon after the original post went live, and now I’m coming around to Pino’s too. Let my continued patronage be my penance.

The Fugly Five

24 Jun

You don’t go see a movie like Grown Ups because you think it’ll be good.

You see it because you like the stars and you hope it’ll be funny.

Thankfully, you get what you pay for.

Adam Sandler and his pals Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Chris Rock star as childhood friends who reunite (in “New England”) for the funeral of their beloved basketball coach and decide to stay together with their families over the July 4th holiday at a scenic lake house.

There’s really no more plot than that.

Good times and insults follow, as do other fellow former Saturday Night Live stars like Maya Rudolph, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, and, in a brief cameo, Norm MacDonald (plus Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, and Sandler movie mainstay Steve Buscemi). Continue reading

Some Things Happen for a Reason

23 Jun

Knight and Day is what you might call a “Snuggie movie.”

That is to say, it’s more about the marketing than the actual product.

You’ve got your big, media-friendly stars (Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, reunited for the first time since Vanilla Sky — maybe you’ve seen them on TV or magazine covers lately).

And you’ve got your cutesy title, which doesn’t really have much to do with the movie other than the fact that it’s easier to sell than the original title, which was Wichita.

What more do you need? Continue reading

Being an Uncle Isn’t All Good

21 Jun

They say there’s no downside to being an uncle.

You can play with a kid, get him or her all riled up, laugh, always be on his or her good side, etc … and then, when things go sour, you just hand the kid back to the parents and they deal with it.

And for the most part, I agree with that. It’s always fun spending time with my niece, Abby, whether it’s in person or on the phone as I drive home from work. And when she gets cranky, well, that’s not my problem. Continue reading

Sunnyside Up

18 Jun

It’s been 11 years since Woody, Buzz, and the gang were last on the big screen, and in that time, it’s not just Andy (their owner) who has grown up.

The passage of time is what gives Toy Story 3 so much of its emotional heft. No matter how old you are, and whether you see it with or without a child sitting next to you, it’s hard to deny that this third film hits you in all the right places.

It’s surely worth the wait.

And then some. Continue reading

Nothing Personal

15 Jun

A few times during the film Solitary Man, Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas) is out of focus.

This filmmaking choice is just a literal representation of the man, who, after hearing that he may have some cardiac issues, decides to make all the wrong choices and has to deal with the consequences.

He has a loving wife and family, and he throws them away to sleep with younger women. He has a successful chain of car dealerships, and he makes some shady business decisions that result in him losing his livelihood.

All this is a gigantic case of denial: Ben can’t face the fact that he’s not the young guy he once was. Continue reading

Take Your Shot

14 Jun

Do you remember Trani, that unfortunately named place in the North End where the featured menu item was cupcakes injected with ice cream? I definitely remember it. Well, it has closed and been replaced by a pizza place — yes, just what the North End needed, another pizza place.

But last week, on my birthday, a coworker (thanks, Suzy!) came into the office with exciting news. It seems a new place just like Trani has opened up in the Burlington Mall, of all places. It’s called Shot Cakes, and it has the same basic premise: cupcakes injected with ice cream. There’s one big difference, though: Whereas Trani had basic chocolate and vanilla cupcakes that you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat without the ice cream, Shot Cakes has a whole selection of awesome flavors that are great as is. Red Velvet, Cookie Dough, Cookies and Cream, Brownie, Frosted with sprinkles, and so on. Add in ice cream and some hot fudge (or any of the other toppings, like peanut butter or caramel) and, well, WOW!

Barry and I went to check this place out on Saturday, and I had a Chip Shot Cake Quake. That’s a chocolate cookie dough cupcake, injected with vanilla ice cream, topped with hot fudge, and served in a cup. It’s kind of like a sundae, minus the whipped cream. A-MA-ZING. Moist cake, yummy fudge, and ice cream too. It wasn’t overwhelmingly heavy or filling. And it cost less than $4. Had I been alone, I might have had a second. (Or a third.)

One curiosity was why there was not a bigger crowd waiting for their own Shot Cakes. Maybe we were there at an off time (who knew such a thing existed at a mall food court), but on the off chance that this place isn’t getting the attention it deserves, I wanted to put up a blog post here (yeah, ’cause that will bring the place LOTS of attention). If you like cupcakes and ice cream — and really, who doesn’t? — then by all means make a trip to Burlington and check this place out. (Just get in line behind me.)

Do It Again?

9 Jun

Almost six years ago, in celebration of my 30th birthday, I went skydiving.

It was both a gift and a challenge: I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, and if I could, then my thinking was I could never use the excuse that I was too scared to do something ever again.

To this day, it remains in my list of the top 3 things I’ve ever done.

Though I said almost instantly that I wanted to get right back into the plane and do it again, time has tempered that excitement (my experience taking trapeze lessons did too).

On the fifth anniversary this past October, I actually said I was happy with both feet on the ground.

But now I’ve sorta got that itch again.

Continue reading