Friday, June 30, 2006

Happy 4th of July weekend

I started the celebrations early by sneaking out of work to watch the Germany vs. Argentina game (Germany won in a shootout), and now I'm back in the lab, pretending to be sober.

I'll be staying in town for a wedding on Sunday. On the 4th, I'm hoping to catch the annual turnaround sail of the longest commissioned ship in the Navy, the USS Constitution. I fucking love Old Ironsides. It's also my adorable niece's first birthday party. I decided to ix-nay my plan of selling glow necklaces (I fucking love glow necklaces!) at the fireworks on Tuesday night after someone told me that he got arrested for selling them without a license last year.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day, everyone!

Restaurant Review: Cafe Polonia

Ever since I read this book, I've been obsessed with Poland and all things Polish. When I discovered that Boston has a traditional Polish restaurant, Cafe Polonia, and that it's practically in my neighborhood, I had to try it. I went last night with some friends from grad school, and we really enjoyed it. The restaurant, located in Andrew Square, is small and quaint, with sturdy wooden furniture and Polish pop music playing in the background. The prices are very reasonable for a grad-student budget. I had never tried Polish food before, so I went for the combination Polish Plate, containing stuffed cabbage, pierogi, kielbasa, and some unidentified sauerkraut-like substance. It was very tasty; the stuffed cabbage roll was my favorite. Cafe Polonia also serves a variety of Polish beers, and since I had never heard of any of them, I asked the waitress for a recommendation. She told me that Zyweic is the most popular, and a Polish man overheard us and agreed that it was a good choice. The dessert menu shouldn't be ignored, either. I tried the Polish apple cake. I'd definitely recommend Cafe Polonia if you're in the mood to try something different- a cozy atmosphere, friendly service, and good food and beverages for low prices.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Dutch fans forced to watch soccer in their underwear

Hundreds of Dutch fans arrived at the stadium wearing orange lederhosen to cheer on their team in the World Cup. The problem? The orange lederhosen were part of a promotion by Bavaria beer and displayed the Dutch brewery's logo. Since Budweiser paid a hefty price to be the official beer of the tournament (ironic, considering Germany is quite well-known for its own brews), fans wearing the Bavaria lederhosen were required to remove them before entering the stadium. The result? Hundreds of Dutchmen in their skivvies.

Here's a quote from the article:

"I understand that FIFA has sponsors but you cannot tell people to strip off their lederhosen and force them to watch a game in their underpants. That is going too far."
Damn straight.

I have a confession to make

I have always considered the reading of sci-fi/fantasy novels to be something beyond my level of nerddom. I'm a nerd and all, but I'm not THAT much of a geek. However, I recently read all three books of His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman, and I loved them. Yes, a series of books that involve two child protagonists from different worlds, a knife that can cut openings from one world to another, gypsies, witches, armored bears, angels, an interworld war, and all sorts of physics and mystical stuff. I blame Carolina, who lent them to me, for this recent spike in my nerdiness. If I start trading Magic cards or attending battle reenactments, somebody please slap me.

P.S. A movie is in the works for the first book of the series: The Golden Compass. I'm very excited.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

More baseball

I made it to Fenway again last night to watch the Red Sox defeat the Mets, 9-4. Here are pictures of Phil, Sue, Kim, and me at the game, and Pedro getting a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd. I'm still not used to seeing him in a Mets jersey.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

List #28...Best Nicknames

I'm going to the Sox vs. Mets game tonight at Fenway, and they're having a pregame ceremony to honor the 1986 Red Sox. In attendance will be the owner of the Best Nickname Ever, Oil Can Boyd. As far as nicknames go, I don't think they count unless A. They are always used in place of your real first name, to the point that many people do not know your real first name or, in extreme cases, have no idea that your nickname is not your real first name (Satchel Paige) B. Said nickname is an adjective that goes with your first name and first name is rarely/never spoken without the nickname (Sugar Ray Leonard).

According to my rules, nicknames like The Big Unit, although a hilarious moniker, do not make the cut.

10. Eri and Ern (tie). My sister and roomate, who are both technically named Erin.
9. Jeff the Neph. During a biology review session first semester freshman year of college, a guy named Jeff asked a question about the kidney. He went to the board and drew a detailed diagram of a nephron, much to the amazement and annoyance of his classmates, who were much further behind in their studies. For the next four years, he was known as Jeff the Neph.
8. Coco Crisp
7. Huggy. My friend Lauren's brother. I have no idea what his real name is.
6. Pistol Pete Maravich
5. Twinkletoes. A friend of Kevin's whose feet twitch when he sleeps.
4. Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler (tie)
3. The Fridge
2. Magic Johnson
1. Oil Can Boyd

I'm sure I'm forgetting a ton of good nicknames. Any suggestions? A couple nicknames that I enjoy depsite the fact that they haven't caught on yet are Jiri "The Jirinator" Welsch and Jonathan "Pap Smear" Papelbon.

Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street

Here are a couple of YouTube Videos of Stevie Wonder performing live on Sesame Street in 1973: A funky Sesame Street song and a rockin' version of Superstitious.

Stevie Wonder + ridiculous 70s fashion + dancing kids = pure awesomeness

via Boing Boing

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Answer in Boston?

Rumors are flying....A.I. could be traded to the Celtics? My favorite player on my favorite team? Please, please let this rumor come true! Danny Ainge, if you make this happen, I will forgive you for everything you've done wrong over the past few years.

Weekend Report

Friday- Happy hour at work, followed by dinner out with friends, followed by drinks with Tina, who now lives in Geneva, a fact that makes me quite envious. I've been feeling the wanderlust bad I still have 2-3 more years of grad school to go.

Saturday- Went to see the Red Sox play the Phillies at Fenway Park. Brett Myers did pitch, despite the fact that he was arrested less than 36 hours before the game for beating his wife in public in downtown Boston. I completely agree with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy...the Phillies should have benched his sorry ass, and the fact that they didn't reflected poorly on their organization. Aside from that, it was a great game. I went with three friends who had never been to Fenway before (Carolina, Jose, and Monica), and we had the classic Red Sox experience: beers at the newly remodeled Cask n' Flagon (it looks great- similar setup, more TVs, cleaner bathrooms) before the game, bleacher seats, Fenway Franks, expensive beers during the game, peanuts, and best of all, a David Ortiz game-winning homer in the bottom of the 10th. The bleachers were packed with Phillies fans. I've never seen so many fans of the opposing team, even at Yankees games. The majority of them had road-tripped in for the weekend to catch the interleague play, and the Red Sox fans in the stands had fun giving them a good-natured welcoming to "friendly" Fenway Park.

Sunday- Watched A Prairie Home Companion, the movie based on Garrison Keillor's popular, and very Midwestern, radio show. The film didn't have much of a plot, but was worth the price of admission just for the musical numbers. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin shine as the singing Johnson sisters, and Woody Harrelson and John C. Reilly entertain as singing cowboys. Some of the other characters didn't really do it for me...Kevin Klein as the bumbling detective, Virginia Madsen as the angel, and Maya Rudolph as the pregnant stage manager all fell flat. It was refreshing to see Lindsay Lohan, who plays Streep's daughter, in something other than a tabloid for once. Despite the fact that Garrison Keillor wrote and stars in the film based on his own show, this is Meryl Streep's movie. She NAILS the Minnesota accent, sings surprisingly well, and seems like she's having a great time doing it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

I'm definitely booing this guy tomorrow

I'm going to the Red Sox vs. Phillies game tomorrow, and guess who's scheduled to pitch for Philadelphia? Brett Myers, who was arrested last night after hitting his wife in the face on Boylston Street in downtown Boston. What an asshole. I have a feeling that Philadelphia's going to change their rotation, because that guy's gonna get booed louder than Johnny Damon in pinstripes.

You'll never look at George Washington in the same way

Very strange, very funny take on the Father of our Country.

via Goldenfiddle

Thursday, June 22, 2006

U.S.A. eliminated

The U.S. lost to Ghana 2-1, and is therefore eliminated from the 2006 World Cup. Lisa, Meg, and I watched the game at the Phoenix Landing, which was packed with rowdy Team USA fans playing hooky from work. The U.S. fell behind early, when the one player on the team I can't stand, Claudio Reyna (he is such a Peyton Manning- scowling at his teammates whenever he messes up, like it was their fault), screwed up on defense and got the ball stolen from him, leading to a Ghana goal. Although he was carried off on a stretcher, I think the only thing injured was Reyna's ego. The U.S. did have a moment of brilliance, when Clint Dempsey one-timed a beautiful cross from DaMarcus Beasley into the back of the net to tie the game. However, the momentum was destroyed when a lousy call against American defender Oguchi Onyewu gave Ghana a penalty kick, which they scored. Replays demonstrated that Onyemu made a clean play for the ball and the slight contact with the opposing player was purely incidental, but once the referee makes the call, nothing can be done. During the second half, the United States had several scoring opportunities (like McBride's header that hit the post), but were unable to score. Ghana picked up some bad habits from Italy and did quite a bit of acting on the field, much to the annoyance of the American fans. For the next World Cup, I hope FIFA comes up with a way to cut down on the time-wasting fake injury theatrics; it's very unbecoming to the sport. Better luck in 2010, U.S.A.

Brazil finally played their joga bonito today, beating Japan 4-1. I was almost ready to jump on the Argentina bandwagon, but yesterday's 0-0 tie against the Netherlands was a snoozer, so I think I'm sticking with Brazil now that the U.S. is out of the running.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Kavalier and Klay, the motion picture

The stellar novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, by Micahel Chabon, is in the works to become a movie. A recent update on the author's blog indicates that Natalie Portman will likely be cast as Rosa.

via GitM

The great Fluff caper continues

I wasn't the only one upset by the proposed ban on the Fluffernutter- Universal Hub has quoted some bloggers, including me (it's strange when I discover that people aside from the regular commenters are reading this blog), on the subject. My favorite comment on their site:
"They can have my fluffernutter...when they pry it from my sticky, dead hands."

Now, a state Representative has filed legislation to make the Fluffernutter the official sandwich of the commonwealth.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ill comminication

A beagle named Belle saved her diabetic owner's life by biting his cell phone to call 911 after he collapsed. From the article:

"Belle was the first canine recipient to win the VITA Wireless Samaritan Award, given to someone who used a cell phone to save a life, prevent a crime or help in an emergency."

Aren't dogs the best?

Dark history of the Fernald School

Last night, I played soccer at the Fernald School in Waltham. The school, once known as "Massachusetts School for Idiotic Children" (well before the days of political correctness, obviously), has a long and dark history. I'm amazed that it's still open. Many of my teammates were aware of the scandal associated with the school- during the 1940s and 1950s, scientists from MIT and Harvard performed experiments on the children. The boys thought that they were participating in "Science Club," but they were actually being fed radioactive oatmeal and injected with radioactive isotopes. Yeah, that's fucked up. Many of the boys kept at the institution were not mentally disabled, but poor and from broken homes. Here's an article about the school and the Eugenics movement in early 20th century United States.

I carried a watermelon

A black and white, silent, old-timey version of Dirty Dancing.

via Sore Eyes

Monday, June 19, 2006

R.I.P., Lenny Bias

Twenty years ago today, the Celtics first round draft pick, Maryland star Lenny Bias, overdosed on cocaine and died. To this day, his name evokes shock and despair in Celtics fans, and many people note Bias' death as the end of the Celtics dynasty. The story has all of the makings of a Greek tragedy- a young superstar, on top of the world, makes one mistake and loses everything, including his life. For me, the most notable outcome of Lenny Bias' death is that it left me with an intense, life-long fear of cocaine. I can't understand why on earth anyone would do a drug that could potentially kill you (um, except for alcohol).

Here are a couple of articles on Lenny Bias and the impact of his death- an old one from the Sports Guy, and a new one from

Eat fluff or die

I realize that childhood obesity is a growing problem in the U.S., but isn't this taking things to far? A Massachusetts state senator has proposed an amendment to the upcoming junk food bill banning the sale of Fluffernutters in school cafeterias. Fluff, a marshmallow cream substance manufactured in Lynn (City of Sin), is combined with peanut butter and served on white bread to form the Fluffernutter, a New England cafeteria staple. Inn my elementary school days, we could choose between hot lunch and a sandwich (because some days you don't want American Chop Suey or an oddly-shaped taco), and the sandwich of the day alternated between tuna, bologna, and fluffernutter. The Fluffernutter was the obvious favorite. Yes, it's 50% sugar, and that's not exactly healthy. However, I think the recent rise in childhood obesity has less to do with what kids are eating, and more to do with the fact that they sit indoors playing video games all day instead of running around outside. In addition to the nostalgia factor, my personal pro-Fluff bias stems from several fond memories involving the substance, like the time in college when we dared Ern to eat an entire tub of it in under an hour, and she promptly vomitted up a white, fluffy goo, or the time when my labmates and I snuck a tray of fluffernutters into the department holiday pot luck, and watched on in amusement as baffled foreign scientists investigated the strange sandwiches. And here's another opinion from the article:

``A lot of my friends eat Fluffernutter because they don't like school lunch," said 12-year-old Simone Rivard , a sixth-grader . She isn't a big fan of the marshmallow spread herself, but doesn't think it should be restricted either. ``There shouldn't be laws saying what you can and can't eat," she said.

A ban on fluff is a ban on freedom!

P.S. For future reference, running a Google Image search on the term "fluff" is NOT RECOMMENDED.

Oye como va...mis zapatos

I went shopping this weekend, something I do only a couple of times a year because A. I'm perpetually broke and B. I work in a lab, so I wear jeans and sneakers almost every day. While perusing the local mall for a pair of sandals, I made an alarming discovery. Carlos Santana has his own line of women's footwear, called Carlos. Carlos, Carlos, Carlos....have you completely given up on you music career? Some of those duets weren't half bad. I cannot think of anything less rockin' to attach your name to than women's shoes. And, let's face it, the man is not known for stylish clothing. Would you buy shoes from this man?

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Weekend Report

Friday- Saw Nacho Libre, starring Jack Black as a Mexican priest who becomes an amateur wrestler to raise money for the orphans who live at his monastery. Yes, it is a completely ridiculous plot. Or is it? Turns out a real-life Mexican priest wrestled in Lucha Libre for twenty three years under the name Fray Tormenta, or Father Storm. (article via Mr. Jinxy) I must admit, the movie wasn't Jack Black's finest work, and relied a little too heavily on gross-out gags instead of bizarre, witty nonsense. Although I think it's worth seeing, just to watch Jack Black parade around in stretchy pants.

Saturday- USA ties Italy, 1-1! I went to the Phoenix Landing to watch the game with Lisa- it's a great spot to watch soccer, and I was happy to see that it was packed with American soccer fans instead of the usual European clientele. The Irish owner handed out little American flags to everyone before the game started. We got there early enough to watch Ghana defeat the Czech Republic, and the USA fans were buzzing with excitement. Ghana's win means that the bracket is still wide open, and the U.S. has a chance to advance, despite their woeful performance against the Czech Republic. Their performance against Italy was the exact opposite- it was one of the most exciting soccer games I've ever seen. McBride's bloody face (and gratuitous shots of his shirtless torso, thanks ESPN!), one well-deserved red card on the Italians, two questionable red cards on the Americans, goalie Kasey Keller's amazing saves, Beasley coming off the bench to score a goal that was later called back, and, most of all, the obvious heart that the U.S team demonstrated. No wonder the rest of the world refers to Italy as the Italian Diving Team- true to their reputation, they played like whiny bitches more interested in drawing a call than going for the ball. Watch this hilarious clip of them at practice. After the game, Lisa and I bounced around Central Square and met up with her sister Meg at the Tavern, where we watched game 6 of the NHL finals. A few hours and several more beers later, I boarded the T home, still carrying my little American flag, which I plan to take with me to the Phoenix Landing on Wednesday morning to watch the U.S. play Ghana.

Sunday- I'm in the lab right now, getting some bacteria growing for tomorrow, and I'll be heading to Framingham tonight to celebrate Father's Day and my mom's birthday.

Friday, June 16, 2006

List #27....Levels of Nerddom

While talking about the World Cup, I let it slip that I liked Trinidad & Tobago because, as a kid, I collected stamps, and Trinidad and Tobago had the best stamps. Wait a minute....stamp collecting? Nerd Alert! Sticking with the theme, here's my ranking of Nerdliest Activities:

10. Star Wars (so mainstream it barely makes the scale...but bonus points for people who read the books or collect figurines)
9. Boardgames (except for Risk, that one gets bonus Nerd Points)
8. Scrapbooking (people into arts and crafts hate on it, but whatever, it's cooler than knitting. Oh, the heresy!)
7. Comic books
6. Stamp collecting
5. Belonging to a They Might Be Giants fan club
4. Star Trek
3. Show choir
2. Sci-fi/fantasy fiction
1. Dungeons and Dragons (or the current equivalent). The pinnacle of Nerddom.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Journey out of Darkness, continued

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about attending the opening of a photography exhibit on American POWs in Germany in WWII. Today, there's an article on about the exhibit and the photographer, my friend Jorg: POWs, portrait taker look past their own scars

Home De-POT

Large stashes of marijuana and cocaine have been found in several vanities and cabinets purchased at Home Depots across Massachusetts by unsuspecting customers. Heh. Personally, I would be pretty freaked out if I opened my new cabinet and it was chock full o' blow. Somewhere, some drug lord must be FURIOUS at whomever screwed this up.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

To capri or not to capri

For a long time, I shunned capri pants. Like three-quarter sleeve shirts, they reminded me of all the times in my childhood that my clothes didn't fit (I was a gangly youth) and my mother tried to convince me otherwise. "No, your sleeves aren't too short, your wrists are supposed to be sticking out of them like that!" Even though I knew she was lying, there wasn't much I could do about it until I started buying my own clothes. I completely avoided the ankle-length pant trend. (Do you know any tall girl who wears them? Probably not, because we've all spent years avoiding the dreaded highwater look.) I finally succumbed to the capri trend and bought a pair of flowy black ones. But after looking at this website, I'm having second thoughts.

Right to Play

Remeber how Olympic speedskater Joey Cheek donated his medal winning money to charity? Well, has a long and interesting article on his trip to Zambia with the Right to Play organization.

#1 sign that women have taken over the life sciences

The salespeople that come in selling laboratory equipment are hot men instead of beautiful women.

Book review: In the Time of the Butterflies

I recently read In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez. The story is a fictional account of the four Mirabal sisters, three of whom played important roles in opposing the dictator Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961. The sisters were known as The Butterflies, due their revolutionary code name, Mariposa. They became national heroes, and their murder became a turning point in the revolution, inciting public outrage against Trujillo's regime. In her novel, Alvarez attempts to humanize the sisters and their struggle. Minerva is the leader, the true revolutionary, and the first to join the rebellion. Maria Theresa, young and beautiful, joins the cause, partly in admiration of her older sister, and partly because she has fallen in love with one of the activists. Patria is a devout Catholic, who becomes inspired to participate in the underground after attending a pilgrimage. Dede is the only one who is not actively involved in politics; she later becomes caretaker of her sisters' children and their legend.

Although I wasn't overly impressed by Alvarez's writing style (check out Isabel Allende if you're into Latin American writers), I was completely captivated by the story of the Mirabal sisters. Before reading this book, I knew nothing about the history of the Dominican Republic and had never heard of them. Many Latin American countries have a similar pattern of history: years of a brutal dictatorship eventually overthrown by leftist rebels, and the socialist aspect of these revolutions has always scared the bejeezus out of the U.S. government. This novel will undoubtedly cause readers to sympathize with and admire both the Mirabal sisters and their cause. It was amazing how much the setting reminded me of my time in Nicaragua, despite the fact that the majority of the book takes place 50 years ago. In one scene, Minerva discovers that her father has four children with a poor woman who lives on his property. The image of the four illegitimate children, dressed in rags while their father drives around in an expensive car, is all too familiar. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and was impressed by how Alvarez manages to transform the legendary martyrs into living, individual women.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Watch the World Cup on your computer

I've been using TVUPlayer to watch the games at work (yes, a model employee as always). You can download it here and watch the games on ESPN2 for free. It only takes a couple of minutes to set it up, and although the screen comes out small, the picture is clear and without any annoying stutters in the broadcast. Enjoy!

Best news I've heard all day

A recent study concluded that drinking coffee may reduce risk of alcohol-associated liver disease. So, one of my vices may cancel out the other? Sweet.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Weekend Report

Friday- Ditched work early to watch the opening match for the World Cup at the Phoenix Landing. It was such a blast- the bar was filled with Germans, Costa Ricans, and various soccer fans from all over the world, everyone excited for the start of the world Cup. Friday night, we had a pirate party for my roommate Ern's birthday. We had ordered a bunch of pirate supplies (eye patches, hoop earrings, bandanas, tattoos, etc.), and guests were immediately converted into pirates upon arrival. One of the funniest parts of the evening took place when my friend Monica and I, dressed as pirates, ventured to the convenience store to buy more ice. I could barely keep a straight face when Monica put her hook on the countertop while I was paying for the ice. The pirates drank and pillaged into the wee hours, but unfortunately, yours truly imbibed too much pirate punch and wasn't feeling so hot the next morning. Somehow, a bottle of Gold Strike (a Goldschlager knock-off, complete with the floating gold flakes) had turned up in the apartment, and I had the foolish idea to try a taste test between the cheapo version and Goldschlager. The verdict? Both nasty.

Saturday- Thankfully, I recovered from the pirate hangover in time to celebrate Phil and Sue's wedding. My sister Eri and I stopped at my grandparents' house on the way for some rhubarb pie. Since it was raining, we borrowed an umbrella, only to discover later that it was the World's Worst Umbrella- broken handle, broken spokes, and obvious mildew stains. We were hoping to put it away before anyone saw us using it, but the wedding photographer snapped a close-up of Eri and me sharing it on our way into the church. The wedding was great- it was nice to see the bride and groom so happy, and all of their friends and family were having a great time dancing and celebrating. Eri and I did a victory lap around the dance floor late in the evening, carrying the "Phil and Sue Just Married" sign. The reception lasted until 1AM, after which was a good old-fashioned afterparty in the maid of honor's hotel room.

Sunday- I went to Framingham and ate lobsters with the family, then headed back to Boston to clean up my punch-stained apartment.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sporting news

The NBA finals are underway, with the Mavs beating the Heat in Game 1 last night. My pick? Shaq ain't the same dominant force he used to be. Mavs in 6.

Federer watch continues. The semi-finals in the French Open take place today, and tennis fans are hoping for a Federer-Nadal final. Meanwhile, Federer fans are hoping that his clothes fall off during a match.

And most importantly....the World Cup starts today! My pick? France and Brazil in the final, with Brazil winning it all. Even if you're not a soccer fan, get thee to a bar to watch some of the matches, preferably one packed with football-crazed foreigners. Since everyone else in my lab is on vacation, I'm going to heed my own advice and leave work early to catch the opening match between host Germany and Costa Rica. Wooot!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fun covers for a rainy Thursday

Here's an Indian group doing a cover of the Beatles' I Want to Hold Your Hand, featuring a Mark Cuban look-alike and lyrics translated into the likes of "We also create false promises." Love it!

And here's something that it is so gawd-awful, it caused Bill Simmons (the Sports Guy on to recalibrate his Unintentional Comedy Scale. It's William Shatner performing a spoken-word version of Elton John's Rocket Man. The cigarette? The superimposed Shatners? The fact that you can tell Shattner is taking himself seriously? PAINFUL! Yet, hilarious.

Still, nothing tops Hasselhoff's Hooked on a Feeling. Nothing.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Senate rejects anti-gay marriage amendment

Phew. I can’t believe our government was actually considering altering the Constitution to take away the rights of a specific subset of the population. Doesn’t that seem downright...Unamerican? Doesn’t everyone recognize this for the political ploy that it is? Pay no attention to the war in Iraq, illegal wiretapping, rising gas prices, increases in crime, skyrocketing health care costs, a slumping economy....there are dudes marrying dudes!
I, for one, am proud of the fact that my beloved commonwealth was the first state to legalize gay marriage. The right thing to do isn’t always the popular thing to do. Kudos to Ted Kennedy stating it clearly: "A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry pure and simple."

For a far more eloquent post on the gay equality movement, check out Jen's post on You Would Think.

Movie reviews: Israeli assassins double feature

By pure coincidence, the last two movies I've watched have featured Israeli assassins.
Munich, Steven Spielberg's latest, deals with the aftermath of the murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. A team of surprisingly undertrained men are recruited by the Israeli government and assigned the task of tracking down and killing the Palestinian terrorists suspected in orchestrating the attack in Munich. Over the course of the film, the leader of the squad, Avner, evolves from an ordinary man into an apt and haunted assassin. He and the other team members travel through Europe, facing the challenge of relying on informants who they do not completely trust, the knowledge that they themselves are being hunted, as well as their own moral and ethical doubts. Overall, I liked this movie. It did break my two hour rule and therefore could have used a little paring down. The casting was excellent, and Spielberg made the right choice in selecting relatively unknown (in the U.S., at least) actors as to not overshadow the story itself. Eric Bana, the most recognizable in the least until the new Bond movie comes out, is completely believable as Avner. I especially enjoyed the performance of Ciaran Hinds as the Carl.

The second movie I watched was an Israeli film called Walk on Water, which, unlike Munich, takes place in current times. After the suicide of his wife, a Mossad (think CIA) agent, Eyal, is taken off of active duty and given an unusual assignment by his superiors, as punishment for his refusal to go to counseling. He is to act as a tour guide for a young German brother and sister, whose grandfather was a Nazi war criminal who went into hiding after the war, and attempt to befriend them to find out whether their grandfather is still alive and, if so, his whereabouts. He spends most of the time traveling through the country with the brother, Axel, tall, friendly, liberal, gay, and the polar opposite of the serious and fierce Eyal. The actor who plays Axel slightly resembles Dirk Nowitzki, so it was kind of like watching Dirk play a goofy, gay German tourist. Distracting, to say the least. At first, Eyal resents the assignment as nothing more than a babysitting job, and becomes irate when Axel voices his sympathy for the Palestinians. Eyal counters by asking Axel what it's like to grow up German, and suddenly realize that your parents and grandparents were responsible for the Holocaust. Over time, Eyal can't help but befriend the sweet-natured Axel, and through bugging the apartment where Axel and his sister are staying, discovers the family secret. I liked this movie; it touches on several interesting political topics and provides complicated and sympathetic characters. The plot was a bit on the predictable side, especially the ending, but other than that, I enjoyed it.


Yesterday, I went to my podiatrist in the Back Bay and noticed the appearance of a multitude of brightly colored cows. I spotted a couple in front of Copley square and a few more on Newbury Street. Turns out the colorful bovines are part of an art project called CowParade Boston. Over 100 cows painted by local artists will be on display in the city during the summer, and come fall, they will be sold at an auction with proceeds benefiting the Jimmy Fund.

via Bostonist

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

List #26...Best Villains

In honor of 6/6/06...

1. David Bowie in Labyrinth
2. Gargamel
3. Stefano from Days of Our Lives
4. Dr. Hannibal Lecter
5. Cruella de Vil
6. Kiefer Sutherland in The Lost Boys

Monday, June 05, 2006

Book Review: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

I recently finished A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. The novel was published in 1980, 11 years after the author killed himself, after it was brought to the attention of novelist Walker Percy by Toole's mother. Percy wrote an insightful forward to the novel; read it here. The protagonist, Ignatius J. Reilly, is a fat, lazy, and somewhat delusional slob, who rebels against modern society by hiding in his bedroom and scribbling out diatribes on notepads. After his mother drunkenly drives into a building and is sued by the owner, Ignatius is forced out into the city of New Orleans to look for work. Ignatius and society are a combustible mix, and the protagonist finds himself in a series of misadventures involving an array of colorful characters from the French Quarter. I found Ignatius' gluttony and sloth repellent, but at the same time, he's intoxicatingly hilarious. The best part of the novel is the rich language. For example, here's Ignatius describing his ordinary routine:

I am at this moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labours, I make an occasional cheese dip.

Not many books have made me laugh out loud, and this one did several times. Toole was awarded the Pulitzer prize in literature in 1981. It's a shame that he wasn't alive to witness the success of his writing. The fact that the author's manuscript was discovered by his mother made me think of Ignatius, barricaded in his room, yelling at his mother, and working on his own manifesto. I wonder what else the author had in common with his misunderstood protagonist.

Best Combo Ever

Hot, black coffee + macaroons from Trader Joe's = pure bliss

Nueva blog

My friend, co-worker, and fellow participant in many adventures, Carolina, has a new blog: Solo un Rato (it's in Spanish).

Weekend Report

Friday- Got together with the hometown crew at a friend's house in Hopkinton for a make-you-own-pizza dinner party. On the way home, I realized that either A. I am not used to driving on unlit back roads at night anymore, having become a full-fledged city dweller or B. my night vision is failing, because I couldn't see shit. I'm hoping it's A.

Saturday- During the day, I babysat my adorable niece Nora, and she didn't puke on me, and I didn't break her, so we'll mark that one down as a success. At night, I went to my friend Gina's bachelorette party. First, we had dinner at Siro's in Marina Bay in Quincy, and I must have angered the culinary gods, because I was singled out for punishment. When our meals came out, mine was missing, and the server apologized and said it would be out in a couple of minutes. It finally arrived about fifteen minutes later, at which point everyone else was half-done with their meals. I had ordered the grilled mahi mahi, and when I cut into it, I discovered that the center was completely raw. Clearly, they had forgotten to place my order and tried to cook one up for me on the fly (how's that for restaurant lingo?) when they realized the mistake, but rushed things too much. By the time I found a server, everyone else had finished their meals. I didn't even want it anymore, because in the meantime, I had been sampling everyone else's meal, so I wasn't hungry, and it's not like I was going to make everyone else sit around and wait for me while I ate. The staff wanted to cook me a new one and make it to go, but I told them not to because we were going out dancing, and I didn't want to be carrying around a piece of fish all night. Finally, they offered to just nix it and take it off the bill, which is all I wanted to happen at that point. The waitress felt bad and was nice about the whole thing, but you'd think at a fancy restaurant, mistakes like that wouldn't happen. We had originally planned to go to Water Works, but since it was pouring out, it was closed, so we went to the Liquor Store, a big, cheesy dance bar downtown, instead. It was a good choice for a bachelorette party. We had fun dancing, and Gina got to live her dream of riding a mechanical bull.

Sunday- I slept in, then cleaned the living room and rearranged furniture with my new roommate, Ern. With her arrival, I've upgraded from one crappy futon to two black leather couches. Pimpin'. That night, I had a much better dining experience. I went to a Peruvian restaurant in East Boston called El Rincon Limeno. It's so small that it doesn't even have a website (gasp!). East Boston is a very ethnic area, and this restaurant is situated in a South American neighborhood. The tiny restaurant was crowded with latino families and the phone was ringing off the hook with to-go orders. I can see why; the food was delicious and reasonably priced. I had the seafood ceviche, a combination of (deliberately) raw squid, fish, and shrimp "cooked" by marinating it in lemon juice for several hours, and it was SO GOOD. I went with three Colombians, a German, and a Brit, and we had a fun clowning around with the language barrier- the waitress didn't speak English, and the two Europeans no hablan espanol.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Kiefer goes bananas

Watch Jack Bauer take down an unsuspecting Christmas tree.

Friday photo: it's ba-ack!

Some people are ashamed of the questionable choices of clothing and hairstyle that they donned in their youth. Others embrace their past. I give you, Jeff and his Mullhawk:

Journey out of Darkness

Last night, I went to the opening of a photography exhibition called Journey Out of Darkness: American Heroes in Hitler's POW Camps at the Museum of National Heritage in Lexington. The exhibition features photographs and stories of 19 veterans who were prisoners of war in Germany during World War II. My friend Jorg, a photographer, decided to do a project on American veterans after watching a parade on Veterans' Day several years ago. He was struck by the image of the proud, old men, marching in their uniforms and medals. The project evolved to focus on soldiers who had been prisoners of war in Germany, and Jorg, together with writer Hal LaCroix, photographed and interviewed nineteen surviving participants who reside in New England. Their stories are powerful and incredibly varied, united only in the common themes of starvation and suffering in the POW camps, followed by feelings of shame for having been captured and guilt for having survived upon their return home. One soldier told of two escaped Russian POWs who were tracked down by dogs, killed, and paraded in wheelbarrows in front of their fellow prisoners. That night, the prisoners were served a soup with an unusually high amount of meat. Another soldier formed an unlikely friendship with one of his captors. Both were teenagers, an American who had studied German in high school guarded by a German who spoke a little English, who snuck the American extra food and treated him like a human being. After the war ended, the American sent care packages to his former prison guard, who resided in East Germany, but never heard back once the communist government began censoring the mail. After the Berlin Wall was taken down, the American received a letter and package from his German pen-pal, thanking him for good received over forty years prior. About ten of the veterans featured in the exposition were present with their families at the opening last night. Many of them were dressed in uniform, and they universally were proud to be there, and pleased to have had the opportunity to tell their stories.

One of the most interesting aspects of the project is the story of the photographer. Like most Germans, Jorg (who moved to the U.S. in 1995) grapples with the guilt handed down by his ancestors. His grandfather was an SS officer who was a prisoner of war in Russia for eight years, and returned to find his country changes, his wife remarried. He never reassimilated into society and ended up killing himself shortly after Jorg was born. During the process of photographing and speaking with these American veterans, Jorg managed to come to terms with his own personal history.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Eight new species discovered in Israeli cave

Scientists have discovered eight new species, including the pictured albino, eyeless crustacean, in a sealed cave in Israel. Would it be inappropriate to make some biblical joke about rolling away the stone in front of the cave? Oh, okay then.

Hump Day Fun, complete with good and bad customer service

Last night, I had dinner with former and current roommates MJ and Ern (you decide who's who) at Salsa's. For years, I've been on a quest to find an authentic and affordable Mexican restaurant in Boston. Salsa's is affordable, tasty, and cute (in addition to being conveniently located right up the street from my apartment), but calling it authentic is a stretch. It's owned and operated by the Sausage Guy , yes, that Sausage Guy, know for selling delicious treats outside Fenway Park and offending Beacon Hill residents with the logo (what, they've never seen a scantily clad woman riding a rocket before?). The Sausage Guy himself was in attendance last night and was very amicable with the customers. We had to wait for a few mintues to drink our pitcher of Sangria because they were out of clean wine glasses, so he came over to make sure we weren't angry. And he touched Ern's shoulder several times (however, he did not show her his sausage). Although I enjoy Salsa's and recommend it, my personal quest remains unfulfilled. All I want is a sit-down restaurant in Boston featuring Mexican food (and not Tex Mex, there are several of those) cooked by that too much to ask?

After dinner, I headed out to Harper's Ferry to catch a show by my friend John's band, the Lonesomes. They sounded great and I had a good time, except for when the jerkface bartender pissed me off. Earlier in the night, I had ordered a beer that cost $4.50. I had a $5 bill and a $20, so I just left the five. Normally, I'm an excellent tipper (years in the food service industry will do that to you), and I would never leave less that an dollar, even for a beer or soda, if I were ever to start drinking sodas at bars. I felt like an ass for just leaving a fifty cent tip, but I figured I'd leave a couple extra bucks if I got another beer later on to atone for it. The bartender wasn't very friendly at all and kept frowning at the customers, so I didn't feel that bad about shortchanging him, because I'm sure he would have dramatically sighed and rolled his eyes if I had forced him to get me change from a twenty. About an hour later, I asked for a glass of water and jerkface bartender sneers and says "Bottled water is $1.50." Keep in mind that this is a somewhat divey establishment, not the kind of place where clientele regularly purchase bottled water. I said, rather nastily, "Forget it," grabbed my purse, and left. I was pissed! Fuck you, man, just pour me a glass of water! The nozzle's already in your hand, and the plastic cups are right in front of you! He was just doing it to be a prick, probably because he was mad about the 50 cent tip. Well, after that, I felt justified in the prior stiffage, and I might just have to blacklist Harper's Ferry, unless the Lonesomes play there again.