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A Close Call for Me and Terry Francona

1 Oct

Over the course of the nearly eight years since he was hired as manager of the Red Sox, Terry Francona gave fans lots of great memories, both large and small.

There were the 2004 and 2007 World Series wins, of course, as well as the way he embraced Jon Lester after Lester’s no-hitter in 2008, the way he would always give Dustin Pedroia a hard time, the way he stood by his players, his incessant gum chewing … and so many others.

But here’s one of my favorite Terry Francona memories, a true story you may never have heard before. Continue reading

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There They Were

1 Jun

I spent Sunday evening at the Coolidge Corner Theater, which was hosting a screening of the new movie Away We Go. It was a benefit for 826 Boston, the after-school writing and tutoring center founded by Dave Eggers, who most folks know from his awesome book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (yes, I have actually read it). Eggers, who wrote the film with his wife, was billed as the headliner for the evening, and he was there to do a Q&A. However, he was not the only special guest. The film’s stars, John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, were also there to take questions from the audience. (Sweet!!)

I’ll write more about the film itself closer to its theatrical release (it comes out in Boston on June 12), but suffice it to say, it’s a very sweet film about an unmarried couple three months from the birth of their first child, who travel around the country looking for a new place to call home. During the Q&A, Eggers talked of being inspired by the films of Hal Ashby and wanting to write a different kind of romantic comedy. In the film, the lead couple don’t go through the standard arc: there’s no meet-cute, courtship, breakup, and reconciliation, for example. The chance to be in a film where the couple is happy and together throughout was one of the aspects that drew Krasinski and Rudolph to the project. (As was the chance to work with Sam Mendes, who was apparently a very collaborative director.)

Not surprisingly, Rudolph and Krasinski drew the most laughs. Rudolph, who is currently pregnant in real life, talked about how she had a lot in common with her character and how awkward it was to film an oral sex scene on the second day. Krasinski (a Newton native, of course) was quite endearing with his Sam Mendes/Simon Cowell impression and tales of hanging out at Saturday Night Live tapings too often back in the day. He also gave some surprisingly insightful answers that were a long way from the sarcasm and dopeyness seen each week on The Office (maybe that’s because his family was in the audience).

On the other hand, I didn’t really believe Eggers when he said he wrote the screenplay with Krasinski and Rudolph in mind (really? You really thought of those actors?), and I thought his answer that none of the film was inspired by real-life people or events was less than convincing, given that Eggers’ personal story (well documented in AHWoSG) mirrors at least partly that of Rudolph’s character (in the film, her parents died when she was 22) and the overall journey they are on. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Krasinski and Rudolph were really great, and I wish the Q&A had been longer and had covered more than just the specifics of the movie, because obviously, it would have been fun to hear more Office and SNL talk. But, as Krasinski teased, maybe there’ll be a sequel to the film — Away They Went? — so we may have a chance to ask those questions at another time.

(Photos courtesy of Kirk Kittell)

He’s Back

21 Sep

Just a quick plug to let you know that Brad Meltzer, who I’ve written about here and here, will be in Boston Monday night to read from and sign copies of his new book, The Book of Lies. He’ll be at Brookline Booksmith in Coolidge Corner at 7 p.m. You know I’ll be in attendance. Will you be there too?

Movin’ On Out

4 Apr

One last post before I pack up my computer here at 110 Babcock — or simply “The ‘Cock,” as someone called it last night. The apartment is pretty empty; other than furniture and books, most everything else has been moved to my new place. As expected, packing has been a fun experience; I’ve found all kinds of stuff I hadn’t seen since I moved in (old photos, a bag full of Louis, etc.) and taking a week to move in gradually before the actual movers came has turned out to be a great idea.

After more than six years in one place, it’ll be a real adjustment to have my life centered elsewhere, but I’ll be fine (of course). There’s a lot I’ll miss about this building (the location, mostly), but in the end, I’m very happy to be moving on (thank you, violin players and noisy, insensitive neighbors and price-gouging management company). In fact, it gives me immense pleasure to know that I’ll be going out with a bang — my movers are scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Now, you know how I feel about noise on Saturday mornings when I’m trying to sleep late. But after all these months of tolerating the violins and the flutes and the pianos and the loud talking and smoking outside my window and the late-night phone calls next door and the smelly cooking and all the shoes left in the hallway and the rude neighbors who don’t hold the door open when you’re right behind them and the heavy-footed upstairs neighbors and the folks who park their minivan next to me and don’t know how to open doors without hitting my car and the side doors being propped open, etc. etc. etc., it only seems right that I disturb my neighbors for a change. So, goodbye 110. I’ll miss you. (But not too much.)

Winter Wonderland?

21 Dec

Thought I’d post a couple photos I took this morning in the ‘hood. They’re not quite wonder-ful, but they are snowy. What a fun weekend this is going to be, digging out my car tomorrow (finally) and seeing a lot of this snow get washed away on Sunday when it rains.

The Panera Era Begins

10 Nov

Panera Bread has finally opened up in the space formerly occupied by Zathmary’s. Now, I know you’re not supposed to embrace national chain stores opening up in Coolidge Corner, but as these types of places go, I have to say I think Panera makes a great addition to the area. After all, it’s hard to get too upset about a new chain opening when it’s one like Panera and not a new McDonald’s or another coffee place. Between this and the Citibank and Qdoba next door, they’ve given new life to that chunk of the sidewalk with their clean, modern looks, and I welcome a new food option that actually offers good food, as opposed to the unhealthy Quizno’s or the cramped unworthiness of Finagle-a-Bagel.

I stopped into Panera for lunch today and it was a total madhouse (not surprisingly). Finding a table to sit at was about as hard as finding a parking spot at the mall at Christmastime. And sure, it wasn’t just the newness of the place, but because it all was so clean and bright and (I guess) generic, I forgot for a while that I was still in Coolidge Corner. But on the good side, despite the crowds, I have to say the service was awesome. Not only did the line to order move quickly, but managers were nice and overly accommodating, and they made sure tables were cleaned off the second they were free, or that dirty plates were picked up when customers were finished with them. If you ate in, as I did, your food was brought to your table with a smile. And my sandwich itself — smoked turkey on toasted French bread — was tasty, as was the chocolate chip cookie I had for dessert. Not that my experience was perfect, mind you, and I know full well that this level of service won’t last, but I wasn’t disappointed (as I had been with other new stores recently).

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Panera — although the French Toast bagel with a hint of cream cheese that I had last year in Chicago was one of the best bagels of all time — but I’m happy to have another option for lunch on Saturdays or a quick bite on the way home from work at night. It might not entirely feel like a Coolidge Corner store, and I wish there was more seating available, but I say welcome to Brookline, Panera. It’s good to have you here.

Holy Giant Turkey, Batman!

23 Oct

Can’t stop laughing at this picture from today’s Boston Globe (here’s a link to the story). It was taken on Beacon Street in Brookline, not too far from where I live. People, that thing weighs 20 pounds and stands four feet tall! Can you believe it?? Look at it walking down the street! And I thought living with the B.U. kids was tough. I’m not going to mess with this thing if I ever see it on my street. (Want more about the turkeys? Click here.)