Thursday, January 31, 2008

People say the funniest things

Rarely do people describe Hillary as funny, but at tonight's Democratic debate she showed a witty side that I found funny as did most of the audience which erupted in cheers after she said, "It did take a Clinton to clean after the first Bush, and I think it might take another one to clean up after the second Bush."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

2008 Australian Open

This afternoon I watched the 2008 Men's Australian Open Championship between Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic. This year with no Americans in the draw going into the semifinals, I found myself cheering for a number of underdogs. Earlier this week I was stunned to see Tsonga absolutely dismantle Nadal and Djokovic beat the best tennis player in the world, Federer.

Today's championship match was incredible. Watching them play definitely helped get the blood flowing again and despite my previous entry bemoaning my loss of passion because of the winter chill, at least for today the cold had no affect. Several times I found myself shouting outloud at the shots / plays both men made. The real winner of this championship match was the fans. These two men represent some of the best tennis has to offer. No disrespect to the ladies who played two days earlier and also had a hard fought championship, but I was blown away by the sheer power and fortitude of these two men who played such an intense 4-set match. Bravo!

Its cold outside

The weather is taking its toll and as a result my blog is getting stale. The winter temperatures have chilled me to my bones, and nothing much seems to motivate me. I imagine my blood usually racing through my veins now barely moving; starving my passions and robbing me of my thoughts.

Right now I'm reading a book that is off to slow start, there is little in the news that I feel interested in commenting about, and I can't muster the energy to rant about any number of social issues that normally would get my blood boiling (my chilled blood must be starving my little grey brain cells to make me so apathetic). I feel like I'm at a loss to add anything I won't scorn in later months when I review my postings. Note to self: even my writing is suffering - Ugh.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Disturbing Gillette advertisement

I stumbled across an old advertisement for Gillette; once a prominent Boston-based firm now part of Proctor & Gamble. I think that the adverstisement is a bit frightening. What parent in their right mind would smile back at a small child holding a razor blade to its face? Perhaps those advertising executives at Hill Holiday and Arnold really do earn their money.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vote for Boston!

Boston has been named as one of 68 cities nominated for a place on the new Monopoly board when the first world edition of the classic game goes on sale in the autumn. Hasbro Inc. (maker of the popular board game) is letting people vote among the various cities for a place on the game through the website starting, Tuesday and February 22nd.

The top 20 cities will win a place on the board. Other nominated cities include New York, St. Petersburg, Athens and Tokyo. The 20 cities that receive the most votes will be placed on the board according to where they rank from highest rent to lowest rent properties.

Vote for Boston and spread the word to your friends!

People say the funniest things

This was said some weeks back by Senator Biden during one of the many Democratic debates, but it is still funny and all the more relevant considering the pending Florida primary, which Giuliani has staked his entire campaign strategy.

"I mean think about it, Rudy Giuliani, there's only three things he mentions in a sentence -- a noun and a verb and 9/11 and I mean, there's nothing else."
–Sen. Joe Biden, during the MSNBC Democratic presidential debate

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I just returned from the Boston Opera House where I saw the musical, Spamalot. Last year I tried to buy tickets to see the show when it first came to Boston, but I was unsuccessful so I was thrilled when my friend Joao asked me to join him. The musical parallel's the Monty Python movie which inspired the Broadway show but it does not require one to have seen it to understand or appreciate it.

My favorite scenes from the movie include the encounter with the French Knight who threatens King Arthur that he will "fart in his general direction" and the fight with the Black Knight who claims he is only suffering from a "flesh wound" after both his arms have been chopped off. These scenes were included in Spamalot and I thought they were even funnier thanks to the music and dancing that accompanied each number. There were also several scenes which were not a part of the original movie that I did not expect and thought were hilarious. One of my favorites was the musical number called "The Song That Goes Like This."

Adding to the overall appeal of the evening was the fact that two distractingly handsome young guys in their mid-20s sat next to me. From the way they laughed and cheered, I think they enjoyed the show even more than I did. Also a pleasant surprise was the fact that my cousin Paul happened to be sitting right in front of me. Before the show started I was chatting to my friend about the young guys to my left when my cousin turned around and said, "I thought I recognized your voice." With such great company surrounding me I knew the evening would be fun.

I have to extend a personal thanks to Joao for getting the tickets and inviting me. I had an absolute blast.

What'cha Reading

I just finished reading Ken Follet's book World Without End. The book is a sequel to my favorite Follet novel, Pillars of the Earth.

World Without End takes place in the same fictional English town of Kingsbridge that Pillars was based. The story picks up 200 years later in the 14th century and details the fortunes / misfortunes of some of the descendents from Pillars and the townspeople of Kingsbridge. I won't bother to summarize the book because any story over 1,000 pages defies a quick overview. Suffice it to say I was unable to put the book down. As with all novels I enjoy, there is always a pang of regret when the story ends, and I wonder if there could possibly be another sequel yet to be written in Follett's imagination. I suppose I'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sky Venture NH

This morning I drove to Sky Venture New Hampshire in Nashua just off exit 1. The Sky Venture website describes itself as "a new state of the art indoor vertical wind tunnel where you can experience the freedom of flight." I have been referring to it as a quasi-free fall, because although there is no plane or parachute, you do have the sensation of flying as fans which generate gusts in excess of 100 m.p.h. make you feel light as a feather. Our instructor, Matt, was great and helped each of us steady ourselves, rotate and soar 20+ feet in the air.

My sister, Susan, had previously visited Sky Venture NH and was the best at manipulating the gusts to make the most of her time but even my mother who at the last minute suited up had a great time, despite her fear of falling and heights. For people like me who dislike the cold and can get cabin fever, this is a great weekend activity to try at least once. The drive to Nashua takes about 45 minutes and is absolutely worth it. There are plenty of places to grab a bite or drink after your pseudo-jump to talk and laugh about the experience. We purchased a DVD and if I can figure out how to post it on this site, I'll be sure to add it later.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

People say the funniest things

Kathy Griffin co-hosted CNN's live broadcast with Anderson Cooper on New Year's Eve, and I thought the witty response attributed to Anderson was a funny way to start a weekly entry I'm calling "People say the funniest things."
"Don’t worry, I’m not watching your figure either." - CNN anchor Anderson Cooper to Kathy Griffin during CNN’s live broadcast. Griffin had just commented that she wasn’t watching her figure.

Friday, January 11, 2008

An interactive guide to Boston has added a section to the travel tab on their website that offers visitor a virtual tour of Boston's downtown neighborhoods. I thought it was pretty cool and hope The Boston Globe continues to develop the section. Aside from travelers, people looking to relocate to the area would find this interesting as would the casual visitor who might be looking to check out a part of town they have heard a lot about but may have never visited. Check out the section if you like by selecting the link I've added.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I was running a bit late today and did not have a chance to eat breakfast before leaving for work so I opted to stop by one of my favorite bakeries in Boston to grab a cup of joe and muffin.

I was greeted by a letter posted on the front door from the owners of the cafe informing me that the lease had not been renewed by the landlord and the cafe had closed at the end of December. This place had delicious oversized muffins, rich Italian coffee and yummy sandwiches. I love Starbucks as much as the next guy, but come on this was place was a keeper. I loved the hippy-chicks who worked the counter and the handmade signs throughout the coffee shop. Change happens but suffice it to say - I'm bummed.

Monday, January 7, 2008

1st In The Nation Primary: A Political Junkie's Dream Weekend

A former co-worker and friend who I'll refer to as J.J. drove to New Hampshire this past weekend to see first hand, the political circus that is the result of the state hosting the nation's first primary. Growing up in New Hampshire, I recall the insanity that surrounds this event and J.J.'s e-mail telling friends about her experience made me smile. I fondly recall running around to listen to countless stump speeches from campaigns past. So I asked J.J. if she wouldn't mind if I posted her email on my blog. What follows is J.J.'s e-mail to friends.

…It's Friday after the Iowa Caucus. The results have turned both races for a loop and New Hampshire has now become the center of the universe.

New Hampshire, the home of Lyndon LaRouche, Franklin Pierce and David Souter. I'm green with envy as every Iowan and New Hampshirite meets politicians as frequently as I meet drug dealers in Springfield. So I packed my bags and head north to see the circus that may only come once in a lifetime. Not since 1952 have we had an election where both party nominations were up for grabs. This was sure to be a political junkie's best fix.

I thought that everyone in Nashua/Manchester, NH was into politics. Why wouldn't they be? This is their time. It's like not being into the Oscars when you live in LA.

Apparently, the hotel check-in lady could have cared less. Wow… Did I drive two hours for a ho-hum weekend? Moving north on the Everett Turnpike, I quickly realized that no, she was just a dumb anomaly. If you drive down Elm Street in Manchester, you'll see campaign sign after sign after sign. There's not any empty spot. Mitt volunteers stood on the corner, screaming "Mitt! Mitt!", probably for hours on end.

My first three hours in Manchester, I made phone calls for the Giuliani campaign. "Hello, I'm with the Giuliani campaign. I was hoping to get your support this Tuesday."

This is the second call in ten minutes!"

Next call, "Hello, I'm with the Giuliani campaign. I was hoping to get your support this Tuesday."

"I'm voting for Osama."

"Okay then. Thanks for your time."

"Oh, I meant Obama."

"I figured that."

Next call, "Hello, I'm with the Giuliani campaign. I was hoping to get your support this Tuesday."

"I'm voting for McCain. Take me off your list!"

"Okay, I'll do that. Thanks for your time."

Next call, "Hello, I'm with the Giuliani campaign. I was hoping to get your support this Tuesday."

"Um, I dunno. I don't know who to vote for."

"Well, are there any questions I can answer? Can I give you some reasons why Giuliani would be a great president?"


"Okay, then. Thanks for your time. I hope we get your support Tuesday."

"Maybe. I doubt it."

Over 50% of my calls were voicemails and another 25% were disconnected services. If I was a New Hampshirite, I wouldn't answer my phone either. Down the street from the Giuliani headquarters, Clinton volunteers had began their chant. "Hillary! Hillary!"

Afterward, I attempted to make my way to the Giuliani debate rally but alas got very lost. So instead, I grabbed a bite to eat at a local dive. Guys inside complained about getting four phone calls in an hour, and I got a lot of glares as I sat there with my Team Rudy shirt on. The guy next to me was nice enough to say hello. He was pretty frustrated with the circus in town too.

I was back to my groupie days at the debate watching party. I stood for hours, watching a debate that I could be watching on the comfort of my couch just to see a glimpse of Rudy later. It was all worth it at the end. Giuliani graced us with his presence for over 5 minutes, waiving, talking about how great he is and shaking my hand on his way out. After hours of volunteering, watching debates and driving around, I head back to the hotel, only to find out my hotel was filled with Hillary supporters. I got worse looks from them with my Team Rudy shirt on than I did at the local dive.

The next morning, I made my way to the politician haven, The Merrimack Restaurant, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mike Gravel, who was scheduled to eat breakfast there. I sat at the counter on the lookout. It took me a half hour to realize that the Maryland Governor was having breakfast near me. No one seemed to care. No one even knew his name. Mike Gravel walked in right on time. No one seemed to care. I'm not even sure anyone knew. Such is the life of a 3rd tier candidate. I didn't take any photos… no one was even shaking his hand… poor fellow.

I headed off to the Romney town hall. My great sense of direction led me to the wrong high school. I ended up at the Clinton Rally 1 hour before it started and it was already packed. I had no chance of getting in. But I did get a great seat at the Romney event, second row, right in front of him. Too bad the two folks next to me and I weren't fans. We were probably the only ones not clapping, which, couldn't have made him happy that we were right there, but better there than on camera.

Unfortunately, since Romney was almost a half hour late, I couldn't make it to Derry to see Obama. Thus, ended my weekend as a political groupie, but the trip was worth the fix. Too bad this is only once every four years.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Years in Fort Lauderdale

I visited Fort Lauderdale, FL for the New Year holiday so I could start 2008 with a smile rather than chattering teeth. This was my first vacation to southern FL in nearly 10 years and my first time visiting Fort Lauderdale. First impressions were mixed because of the dated strip malls and tired looking buildings making the drive along Rte 1 seem cliche. However, the warm weather, accessible beaches and friendly residents more than made up for this.

The coolest part of town is Las Olas Blvd and the surrounding canals. Driving along Las Olas you can get up close views of the many Fort Lauderdale mini-mansions that line the canals. Wilton Manors - which is home to many of the gay bars in town I thought very forgettable. It is dotted with strip malls and wide boulevards and one street looked identical to the other. The bars (of which there are many) were very friendly and filled with guys, but all the smoking was a major detractor and something I had not realized would bother me so much.

Fort Lauderdale, FL lived up to its reputation as a gay-favorite holiday destination. The gay beach between the St. Regis Hotel and Casablanca Restaurant was as busy as P-town in late July. For that reason alone, I would prefer lodgings on the beach to provide convenient options between the pool and ocean. Staying further from the ocean would likely mean needing to drive to the beach and I liked having the option to walk back and forth.

While staying in Fort Lauderdale, we had several very forgetable meals but there were three restaurants in particular that I really enjoyed and would suggest anyone visiting check out. Note that none of the restaurants (either the hits or misses) were particularly affordable. I'm sure there are plenty of cheap eats (the South's reputation for affordability is legendary), but I found everything comprable to Boston prices ($20-$30+ entrees).

Four Rivers - Despite its strange location in a strip mall on N. Federal Hwy (Rte. 1), the restaurant offers delicious Thai cuisine, excellent service in a beautiful setting. If I only had one meal in Fort Lauderdale, I would make a bee-line here.

Kitchnetta - I arrived 15 minutes before the restaurant closed (note I arrived at 8:45pm so this place closes early), but fortunately I was able to grab a delicious Italian meal. The service was lacking, sizes were huge (even the single portions) and the restaurant very loud, but the food made it worth the visit.

Tommy's - This was the last meal that I had before leaving Fort Lauderdale. I was unable to check out the dinner menu as it was lunch when I ate here but the decor and vibe of the place definitely added to the delicious lunch and made me want to add this to my list of places to try when I return.