Archive | June, 2010

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 Well, it has closed and been replaced by a pizza place — yes, just what the North End needed, another pizza place.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

Who Could Be Scared of a Jeffrey?

8 Jun

At the beginning of Get Him to the Greek, Sergio (Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy), an executive at a big-time record label, is yelling at his staff, who are trying to come up with a “game changer” idea that will help the label and maybe even save the entire industry. Aaron (Jonah Hill) has a crazy thought: What if we focused on the music? After all, isn’t that why they all got into the business in the first place?

It seems Aaron’s all-time favorite singer performed at L.A.’s legendary Greek Theatre 10 years earlier. Aaron thinks it would be great if they could get him back on that stage and have him revisit the site of his greatest show.

Of course, the idea is dismissed. When this scene was taking place, I started to smile: Was Get Him to the Greek going to be a great commentary on the state of the music business? Ha. Don’t be so silly. Continue reading

Celebrating My Double Life

7 Jun

Among MOTs, the number 18 has great significance.

The word for “life” in Hebrew is “chai” (pronounced more like “hi” than like the kind of tea). The two Hebrew letters that make up the word “chai” have the numerical values of 8 and 10, so “chai” equals 18.

As a result, on special occasions like weddings and bar/bat bitzvahs, many Jews like to give gifts in denominations of 18.

In keeping with that idea, today, on my 36th birthday, I’m celebrating double chai — or in English, my double life.

No, I’m not outing myself here as a secret agent or a superhero, or revealing some deep, dark secret about myself. I’m just saying that lately, I’ve felt like I’ve been living a bit of a double life.

Some days I’m happy as a clam, stress-free, and optimistic. A joker. A guy who likes to have a good time and make other people smile. That’s the Martin that most people see, and that I’d prefer people know me as.

But in true Gemini style, I’ve also got another side of my personality that’s, well, not those things. And too often this year I’ve felt bored, frustrated, lonely, annoyed, and just plain old down. Continue reading

Changing Over

6 Jun

I spent a good chunk of the last day of my 35th year doing what any other good straight male would do: I changed over my closet from winter to summer. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) I kinda had to do this, now that the temperatures have gotten consistently warmer and all. An unfortunate truth about my condo is that my closets are too small to keep all my clothes upstairs. But the other truth is that I’m a bit of a pack rat (as has been well documented on this blog), so every now and then it’s good for me to go through my stuff, see what I’ve been hanging on to for way too long, and just get rid of anything I haven’t worn or that’s weathered and old. You’d be surprised at how many shirts and sweaters I just never wore all winter, despite thinking I would. Or how many of the same color shirts I owned. And some things I just wore too often and needed to get rid of them. And, I’ve been buying some new clothes lately that I needed to make room for.

I guess deep down, I wanted to do this today because I thought there was something metaphorical about cleaning up and renewing myself, and purging some old and unwanted belongings, the day before I turn another year older. And what the hell — yes, I also thought I’d get a blog post out of it (and given how few and far between they’ve been lately, that was a bonus).

Cliches and cheesiness aside, it felt good to do this. Not only did I get rid of a bunch of shirts, tshirts, and sweaters, but I also cleaned my apartment in the process and got in some exercise (walking a heavy tub up and down the stairs to and from my storage unit wasn’t easy). And, another bonus, I have a nice donation to make to an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters.

So now I’m sitting here in a cleaner apartment, with less than I had at the start of the weekend, and I’m feeling good about waking up in the morning.

Welcome Home, Old Friend

5 Jun

The crowd was justifiably loud when Conan O’Brien took the stage Friday night at the start of his first Boston show on the Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.

This was the former Tonight Show host’s first paying gig in his hometown (he grew up in Brookline, if you didn’t know), and after more than three months off the air, we who love Coco were eager for some of his goofy Irish charm.

Conan brought that and more in a show that was eager to please, even if it maybe ran on a little too long. Continue reading