Friday, April 29, 2005

Idol thoughts

Since this is the week that Constantine was booted off American Idol, I thought now would be a good time to mention this little Benari fun fact.

Fresh out of college, I did a little corporate comedy theatre with a Boston-based group to help pay the bills. Yeah, it's unglamorous, demeaning, and sould crushing, but a little Murder Mystery and corporate entertainment never hurt anyone. Much. The people were great and the gigs were a nice diversion while I fgured out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I'm still working on that part...


I played a number of parts and did a bunch of shows, all across the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One of the regular shows I did during the summer of '99 was a Mississippi Riverboat Murder Mystery cruise around Boston Harbor, wherein I played the brooding Cowboy gambler. Pretty easy gig. I wore a 10-gallon hat and cowboy boots, played poker the entire night, and dropped a few red-herring clues over the course of 2-3 hours. Not a bad way to earn some extra bucks. Of course, then I joined the Army (Reserve)and shipped off to Basic Training in February of 2000 ... leaving Comedy Theatre Productions with a role to fill for the upcoming summer cruise.

My replacement? That's right.

Constantine Maroulis.

And now you know...the rest of the story.

Good DAY.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Abyss Gazes Also

So, it's Thursday. And as some readers might know, back in my Boston days, I used to do a monthly Thursday show called the Geek Council with these guys. Actually, to be technical, the show was called "The Grand High Council of All Things True" ... but I digress. Yet again.

Anyway - the point is, it's Thursday and Thursdays hold a special place in my geek heart. Which brings me to the point of this particular post. Mike Sterling mentions a Watchmen musical over on Progessive Ruin, specifically relating this conversation:

Me: "Yeah, I saw Warren Ellis' comment about this on his site...and about how he wouldn't be surprised if the Watchmen movie turned out to be a musical."

D: "Actually, I'd like to see a musical verison of Watchmen."

Me (singing): "I feel so bluuuuuue...."

Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.

Funny thing about geeks...

Long before David Bowie even mentioned that he'd like to turn Watchmen into a rock opera - waaaay back in September of 2002, WBCN's own uber-geek Rob Reuter joked on our message board that he was waiting to see the Watchmen which, Ross and I responded by writing up several songs from said musical. So now, for your reading pleasure, excerpts from our Watchmen: the Musical. Blame Rob Reuter.

I kicked things off with this hastily written ditty:

"They called for the Doct-or, Dr. Manhatten.
I am the Doct-or, I have my own patent.

With a wave of my hand,
I'll turn glass into sand;
I can equate the precise rate at which matter can relate;
out of time I might fall but I will still heed the call;
have I made it quite clear, quarks and leptons I hold dear.
What the future may hold, do I know what will happen?
Yes! for I am the Doct-or - I'm Dr. Manhatten."

Ross responded with:

Dead dog in the alley
Nobody cares
Dead alien thing in the city
Everybody stares.

Veidt sees his wrong as right
That's no surprise
Everything looks black and white
When you see the world through
Rorschach's eeeeeeeeyes!

So then I wrote the opening number:

(Cry No) Tears For a Clown - *opening number*

The Comedian's dead (who is that? Should I weep?)
And the city's in bed (why is that? Should they sleep?)
And the moon, like a god, straddles the skyyyyyyyy!

Has the world really changed (Is it true? What he says?)
Are the heroes estranged (Are we here? In a haze?)
Could it be, is he right? That the end is niiiiiiigh?

Cry no tears for this clown
For vile deeds fill his past
and while no villain was found
surely he will laugh last!

Smiley face filled with stains
For ourselves we must fend
But the question remains
Who watches...the WatchMEN!

Ross then gave us this haunting duet:

A long time ago, I prowled the street
I searched high and low for crime.
But so many years wear on an old man's feet
And after a while I knew it was my time.

Who has a care for an ooold Night Owl
Who Who? Hoo Hoo?
Who has a prayer for an oold Night Owl
Who Who? Hoo Hoo?

I tried to make things right.
I hope I did some good.
But I'm through with the Night.
I'm done with my tiiiime, Under the Hood.

I once met a man who changed my life.
I tried to be just like him.
I'd use gadgetry to ease people's strife
I fought villains no matter how grim.

I dedictaed my life to fighting crime
I made the world better in my spare time
But the damned Keene Act cut me down in my prime.


Who has a care for an ooold Night Owl
Who Who? Hoo Hoo?
Who has a prayer for an oold Night Owl
Who Who? Hoo Hoo?

I tried to make things right.

I hope I did some good.

But I'm through with the Night.

Hollis and Daniel:
I'm done with my tiiiime, Under the Hood.

Quoth Ross: "Not a dry eye in the house, baby."

But now Ozymandias needed his own showstopper. Which I was happy to give him:

'Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty (and Despair)'

What hell hath men wrought?
who shall lead the way?
Cannot they be taught?
I've not yet had my say...

I've traveled far and near,
deep answers I have sought
Alone I stand, I fear
I must free the world from this Gordian Knot...

And when the mighty fall!
I shall rise above them all
My path is clear, my mind is strong

Your pleas have all been heard
My wrath has been incurred
this is my plan, this is my song

You foolish humans all know
And now I see I can end
An end to war, shall be no more, an end to waaaaaaaaar!

And when the mighty fall!
I shall rise above them all
To win it all takes sacrifice

I've given up all this
even my dear Bu-ba-stis
To save mankind, but at what price?

Ross then asked, what about the people?
Tick tock
tick tock
tick tock
tick tock

Look at all the clocks
Hey it's almost noon.
Boy the time does fly
Gonna have a biiig war soon.

Tick tock
tick tock
tick tock

Look at all the clocks.
Just about midnight.
I should get to bed
Oh no a teeeenemant fire.

Tick tock
tick tock

Look at all the clocks.
Once again it's noon.
Something's in the air
Feels like impeeeending doom.

Tick tock

Look at all the clocks
Eleven thirty five
Boy my life's a mess
But hey, there's allllllways ti--

Gotta love an abrupt ending!

At this point, Rob realizes the evil that he has unleashed upon the world and chimes in:

Yes, and all the songs are very funny. However, you understand that
I'll need to kill you both for this.

However, if anyone can write a Silk Spectre song that references the
Tijuana Bible porno comic, they'll have my undying respect.

Hrm. Sounded like a challenge to me. And I'm not one to shy away from a challenge. Besides, how could I pass up the chance to earn Reuter's undying respect? Soooooo:

(singing to a picture of her daughter)

Is this the life I've led?
One filled with fame and glory
And as I lie here in bed
there must be more to this story

My life has past, my child is grown
her spirit strong and true
I see these are the seeds I've sown,
my legacy lives on through you

Through you, I can still feel that thrill
Through you, my dreams you can fulfill
Through you, my past slips through my fingers
Through you, the warm glow of Nostalgia lingers!

My precious child, I've done you wrong
For your forgiveness, I'll even grovel
I sit here now, my face grown long
while I spread my legs in some 10-cent novel

For in my heart, my spirit rages
And I'm still young within those pages
But now the day has turned to night
and I must share my burdened plight

Our secret tryst, I hid from you
And even tho' I always knew
My dear sweet Eddie now lies dead
And I sit here, alone in bed

I tried to protect you all along,
and now through you/ my mem'ry will always/

And there you have it. Watchmen: the Musical, by Benari and Ross. Now, if you'll excuse, I'm pretty sure Alan Moore is conjuring up some magikal hell for me...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

It's cold in Siberia

There is a place. Behind an unmarked door,'neath the electric glow of a red bulb.

Called Siberia.

Wherein, on Tuesday nights, down in the seedy depths of the punk-hipster bar, society's ne'er-do-wells and would-be comic hustlers rattle off acerbic barbs, wax poetic on societal taboos, and lament the decline of Western Culture.

It's a donkey-punch of a comedy show and it's quickly becoming my favorite place to pound some good ol' fashioned counter-culture back into my head when I'm becoming too bourgeoisie.

And last Tuesday, I was reminded why it's either the greatest underground "comedy" show in town or simply an exercise in shadenfruede.

Arriving late, I descended the metal stairs alongside a visiting friend from Boston. Instinctively, I warned her of the absurdly cult-like atmosphere of the show, jokingly referring to it as being akin to a live-action snuff film. Little did I know. The show was already in full swing and the theme of the night was storytelling. Specifically, your favorite drug-related stories.

Now, apparently, the previous week (which I had missed), a certain gentleman decided to offer up his best "fat chicks" jokes, and was literally dragged off the stage amidst a howl of boos and jeers. And so a deal had been cut. This week, he could tell his painfully unfunny and hateful fat material if he stripped down to his underwear and whipped out his fun stick.

And so he did. Dropping his drawers, there he stood, at attention*...

*Which was odd - who gets a woody standing on a cold stage standing in front of a shocked crowd in the sketchiest bar in NYC?! But I digress....

So there he was, his dingle-dongle aimed at the audience like a tiny torpedo of hack comedy, he launched into his invective as the audience tried to shield their eyes while simultaneously trying to watch the surreal train wreck that was occurring. As this tubby Panamanian-looking gent referred to himself as a "Skinny American," the irony disappeared into the stunned laughter of his captive audience. Horrible, hack material with no discernable punchlines + exposed genitalia = comedy gold. It's one of those traumatic, unbelievable moments that defy explanation. You just had to be there. This guy really wanted to tell fat jokes. That's called commitment, people.

My eyes still bleed. No one there will forget what they witnessed and what they learned that night: it's cold in Siberia.

Day Tripper

From Salon:

The Secret Service may have thought it was clearing things up when it turned over to Reps. John Conyers and Louise Slaughter security logs showing Jeff Gannon's comings and goings from the White House. It hasn't worked out that way.

As Raw Story noted almost immediately, there are all sorts of holes in the documents the Secret Service released. The documents show that Gannon got access to the White House roughly 200 times in less than two years, but they also show days in which Gannon is listed as arriving but not leaving and leaving but not arriving. Our inbox is full of hopeful speculation: Was Gannon somebody's overnight guest at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

It's not impossible, we suppose, but we'll assume, until we see some evidence to the contrary, that the Secret Service just did a bad job of keeping track of who was coming and going at the White House. That's not exactly a comforting thought, either -- especially given Gannon's rather tawdry background -- and a group of internet sleuths calling themselves ePluribus Media have just raised a whole new set of questions about the matter. They've compared the Secret Service "access control" records with video clips of White House press briefings, and they say they've found five tapes that show Gannon at briefings inside the White House on days that the Secret Service says he wasn't there at all. The group asks: Did the Secret Service screw up that much on its own, or did someone at the White House figure out a way to help Gannon get in without appearing on the Secret Service logs?

Meanwhile, Conyers and Slaughter are asking some questions of their own. When Scott McClellan was pressed on Gannon's access back in February, he said: "Well, let me explain a few things. First, as the press secretary, I don't think it's the role of the press secretary to get into picking or choosing who gets press credentials. Also, I don't think it's the role of the Press Secretary to get into being a media critic, and I think there are very good reasons for that. I've never inserted myself into the process." But according to Conyers and Slaughter, the Secret Service documents show that McClellan's media assistant, Lois Cassano, requested 48 of the day passes Gannon used to get into the White House. In a letter they sent to McClellan this week, Conyers and Slaughter ask whether he'd like to "revise" his claim about not getting involved in the process.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Up, up, and ...


This makes me less than enthused:

Just...something doesn't seem right about it. And no one can ever really fill Chris Reeve's boots. Still. I shall remain cautiously optimistic.

Tell me again how they support the troops

From the LA Times:

POW's Claims Against New Iraq Government Rejected
By David G. Savage
Times Staff Writer

9:53 AM PDT, April 25, 2005

WASHINGTON — U.S. pilots and soldiers who were taken prisoner and tortured by the Iraqis during the Persian Gulf War of 1991 lost their legal battle to hold Iraq liable today, as the Supreme Court turned away their final appeal.

The justices heeded the advice of the Bush administration and let stand an appeals court ruling that threw out a nearly $1-billion verdict won by the Gulf War POWs two years ago.

The court's refusal to hear the case spares the administration from having to go before the Supreme Court to argue against American POWS who were tortured.

The 17 ex-POWs had sued Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussein under the terms of a 1996 antiterrorism law that opened the courthouse door to claims from Americans who had been injured or tortured at the hands of "state sponsors of terror."

Their story was little known because the Persian Gulf War was witnessed by most Americans as a TV spectacular in which U.S. forces pounded and destroyed Iraq's army in just a few weeks.

But during that time, the POWs said they were beaten and had their bones broken by their Iraqi captors. Several of the men nearly starved in the weeks they were held in cold, filthy cells, including at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

By the time the ex-POWs had won their claim in court, the United States had invaded Iraq and toppled the Saddam Hussein regime. And to the surprise of the former U.S. prisoners, the Bush administration went to court seeking to nullify the award they had won.

The government's lawyers argued that Iraq, now under American occupation, was no longer a "state sponsor of terror." Moreover, President Bush had canceled the sanctions against Iraq and moved to shield its $1.7 billion in frozen assets. This money was needed to rebuild the nation, Bush said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington agreed with the administration last year and ruled that "weighty foreign policy interests" called for dismissing the lawsuit brought by the Gulf War POWs.

The former prisoners' last hope had rested with the Supreme Court. In their appeal, they argued that U.S. law and the Geneva Convention forbid the torture of war prisoners and prohibit nations from absolving perpetrators of torture of their legal liability.

"Our country does not have a good record for holding nations accountable for how they have treated American captives," Col. Clifford Acree, the lead plaintiff, said recently.

He was shot down over Iraq on Jan. 18, 1991, the second day of the Gulf War. He was injured when he ejected from his jet. He was blindfold and beaten by the Iraqis until he lost consciousness.

"What message do we send for the future?" he asked in a recent news briefing, if the POWs' lawsuit is dismissed by the courts.

The ex-POWS had won the support of a bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. George Allen (R-Va.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). They filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the justices to restore the verdict won by the ex-POWs.

But last month, Bush administration lawyers urged the court to dismiss the case. They said "the Presidential Determination (by Bush that canceled the sanctions) reflects a most profound shift in the (government's) foreign policy toward Iraq — from viewing it as an enemy to a state subject to our protection."

In a one-line order today, the high court turned down the appeal in Acree vs. Iraq and the United States.

"The court's decision is unfortunate. (It) sends the wrong message to those who would torture or kill Americans," said Paul Kamenar, counsel for the Washington Legal Foundation, which filed the brief for the lawmakers on behalf of the ex-POWS.

While the judge who heard the case had awarded the POWs damages that totaled nearly $1 billion, their lawyers had told government officials they would have settled the claim for a small fraction of that amount. But the lawyers said administration officials refused to discuss a settlement.

Today's dismissal ends the lawsuit with no money for the plaintiffs

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Jew Stuff

Heading back to MA this weekend for the big Jew Days of spring.

So, let me just wish everyone peace and happiness and good times this Passover!

Chag Samach! Have a great Seder this Pesach.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

She speaks the truth!

"There should not be so much concentration of power just in the presidency, there needs to be an independent media... "

- Condoleezza Rice, April 20th, 2005

Of course, she was speaking about Russia. And the dangers of Putin becoming too powerful. But still, I think it holds pretty true anywhere. Ahem. If I believed in irony anymore, I would point out some sort of hypocrisy, I suppose...

Leonard Pinth-Garnell presents: Bad SNL

I was talking with someone about this on Sunday, but Bill Simmons nicely sums up my feelings on the Tom Brady hosted episode of SNL:

THUMBS UP: For the great Tom Brady, who gamely hosted SNL on Saturday night and didn't do half-bad.

THUMBS DOWN: For the actual show, which could have been the worst SNL episode since the Janeane Garofalo Era. You know it's a crummy season when they can't even win with Tom Brady.

It's hard to determine what's the worst part about SNL these days -- the lack of star power, the lack of comedy, or Tina Fey and Amy Poehler giggling their way through Weekend Update like two teenagers who just did a round of Whip-Its -- but it's almost impossible to believe what's happened to this show since Will Ferrell left. I know SNL has always been cyclical (good for a couple of years, bad for a year or two, then good again), but the weird thing about this season is that they have some talented people in the cast (Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Kenan Thompson, even Fred Armisen). The biggest thing they're missing is a No. 1 starter (like Will Ferrell or Phil Hartman); there isn't one person on this cast who could ever headline his or her own movie someday. Still, the show shouldn't be this egregiously bad. Even 20 years ago with the Short-Guest-Crystal cast, the show was taking more chances than it does now (especially with taped pieces). How does that make sense? This never, never would have happened if Lorne Michaels was still alive.

I couldn't agree more...I thought Brady did a great job with terrible material. The writers really let him down, and it was sad to see so many cast members phoning it in while Brady was giving it his all (looking at you, Horatio Sanz, who couldn't even get through "Tom Brady's Falafel City" without flubbing lines, cracking himself up and derailing the sketch, unintentionally making Brady look like an improv master). Robert Smigel's "sexual harassment" video was the one saving grace, but it's too bad that my hometown sports hero didn't have the type of writers who worked on the show when such sports stars as Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, or Wayne Gretzky hosted. If only they had more cowbell...


Happy Four Twenty. For those of you who are into that sort of thing.

Pope pori

Hm. So they went with the former Nazi* as the new Pope.

Wouldn't have been my first choice, I guess...but bold move on the Conclave's part.

*I know, I know. He was forced into it. Still, you can take the boy out of the Hitler Youth....

Monday, April 18, 2005

But seriously, folks...

If you read this stupid thing and wanna see me perform some sketch comedy, then come on out to Stand-Up NY tomorrow night. Just call 212.595.0850 to make a reservation and tell them you plan on seeing To Be Determined.

I promise to be funny.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Shameless Plug

Funny thing about serendipity...

I'll get back to that. But first:

Come see me perform SKETCH COMEDY!!

Call and make reservations, tell them you want to see To Be Determined. We could use the love and support.

Hm? Why are we called To Be Determined?

Ah, yes. Funny story. Serendipity. See, the offer for me to do sketch comedy at Stand-Up NY came up rather suddenly...I've done lots of sketch, but my main sketch group, thank gladys, was pretty much stuck in Boston and my new group - the Riot Act - was still in its infancy. But I didn't want to miss this opportunity, so I gladly accepted the generous offer and figured one way or another, I'd have a sketch group ready to go with some A-list sketches for the 19th. But I didn't have a name. So I said that I'd get back to them and just put us down as "To Be Determined."

Gathering the awesome talents of Ms. Mary Faber and Mssr. Adam Bloom - combining some of their sketches with the gladys skethes of me, Ross, and Danny - we were ready for action. And since it was a one-time gig, I figured we could just pick a goofy name and that would be that. And when I called back to give 'em our name - I found that, lo and behold, we already had one. To Be Determined. Presto. So, there yo have it. The sketch comedy stylings of To Be Determined. Don't blame me. Blame serendipity.

Come watch us on April 19th. Show starts at 9pm. Be there.

More later on the Riot's gonna be huge.

And, as promised, PIE!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Enthusiastic endorsement

It's tax season. And for the second year in a row, I've used TaxSlayer to file my taxes on-line. It's fast, easy, and efficient. And best of all, they really support the Troops - if you're in the military, it's absolutely free. They already had my personal info on file from last year (so I didn't have to re-type everything) and they have easy to use sections where you can fill in your tax info on whatever form you need. It's all there and easy to navigate. I just typed in my info from my W-2s, plugged in my deductions, punched in all the misc. stuff, and TaxSlayer does all the rest, calcuating everything pretty nicely.

As a precaution, I had calculated my taxes the ol' fashioned way last week, so when TaxSlayer's results matched up with my own hand-written results, I clicked on a few more buttons, printed out a copy for my records, and submitted my taxes on-line. Within 48 hours, I had received confirmation from both the state and federal agencies that my taxes had been accepted and now I anxiously await my pretty generous refunds. THANK YOU, TAXSLAYER!

Why am I sharing all this boring tax information? Because I believe in Karma. And if an unprovoked endorsement of an on-line tax service that made my life easier helps keep my tax mojo in good harmony with the universe, then so be it.

Next up, more pie!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

We can rebuild it

I know what I want for my birthday.

Dedicated Superman film enthusiasts have long carried a torch for the never-before-seen, partially-filmed Richard Donner version of Superman II.

The hope was to recut the film to make it feel more like Donner's "Superman The Movie." Before work could seriously begin, the extended TV broadcasts needed to be acquired to include some of those great Donner moments that didn't make it into the theatrical cut.

Rolling up their sleeves, they took matters into their own hands.

So with the support of fans and friends from around the globe, the fan edit was put aside, and the business of restoring the entire film began. It took about 2 years to acquire the footage, and make it watchable, but the results were less than satisfying. The word once again went out for extended broadcasts, and both Bill Williams and Jonathan Hoyle answered the call. The choice wasn't easy, but after a lot of scrutiny, Bill's footage was the actual source chosen to improve RIC. But special thanks to Jonathan for sending his original master as well.
It's been said many times, this film will never win any quality awards. The footage supplied came from home recordings. So anyone expecting amazing detail and clarity will be sorely disappointed. But if you've seen any version of the extended broadcasts, you'll probably appreciate the way it's presented here. Great care has been taken to make the film as watchable as possible, no commercials, no subtitles, no station ID's. Thanks to the generous help of a very talented individual, even the audio got a polishing as well.

Features on the special 2-Disc set include:

- The complete two hour, twenty-six minute version of the film.
- On-screen commentary track, detailing what footage Donner shot, and other RIC trivia.
- Long out of print documentary "The Making of Superman II."
- Long out of print "Superman II Soundtrack."
- "Lost Scene Gallery" featuring pictures of Donner's unreleased work on Superman II.
- "Restoration Demonstration" showing before and after footage examples.
- Complete RIC artwork folder. All the artwork, from the cover to the disc art, it's all included in TIFF file format.

This latest fan film project not only serves as a plea for an official Richard Donner-cut version of the Superman II movie, it also represents the ongoing evolution of how technology has changed our popular culture. Not content with the theatrical release of a movie, motivated fans can now actually re-cut movies to better fit their own idealized visions. Using production notes, existing footage, digitial editing equipment, and some clever technical know-how, would-be film-makers can create their own director's cuts of films. Or, they can take the raw footage and re-edit an entirely new movie. Dedicated fans can apply updated SFX to beloved-yet-outdated sci-fi flicks. In short, what George Lucas has done to Star Wars, any fan (with the right equipment and knowledge) can now do to the movie of their choosing.

We've already moved beyond simply burning copies of cult classics onto DVRs; we are now in the future, where pre-existing movies become the fodder for an endless array of new and unique fan fiction. It's the new do-it-yourself cinema. Movies just the way you like it. And if you don't like it...well, you can just fix that, too, with a few keystrokes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Always the last to know...

So...Britney announced she's pregnant. Wow. I hadn't heard anything about this for the past three months! Thanks for the breaking news.

I would make a pithy comment here about not caring, but I did just post about Britney, really, let's just call the whole thing a wash.

Curse my devotion to pop culture...


Witnessed on the Subway this morning:

An attractive, raven-haired young lady dressed in black sits quietly in the furthest corner of the last car of the A Train, staring sorrowfully at her feet and generally avoiding eye contact of any kind.

A young lad with a buzz cut and a leather jacket rises from his seat, looking as if he has just stepped out of a Frat House. Preparing to get off at his next stop, he suddenly deviates from his course. His arm darts out, awkwardly reaching across several straphangers, a sweaty, crushed piece of paper in his hand. I can only presume his number is scribbled on it.

Raven-haired beauty continues to avoid eye contact, intently inspecting her shoes. The Frat boy's arm becomes annoyed as he punches the air three times, aggressively vying for her silent attention. She tenses, straining her neck to avoid even appearing to look in his direction. Finally, desperately, he throws the scrap paper at her; it angrily lands in her lap, eliciting an almost disgusted "tsk" from her. The shields have been breached, the defenses broken, and his smudged digits lay crumpled in her lap.

Brakes squeal. The doors open. Frat boy bounds off, into destiny. The scrap of paper remains, the only tangible proof that he had ever even been present on the train. The doors close. The station melts away into the darkness of NYC's underground tunnels. Her eyes lock onto the piece of paper. Suddenly, she looks up and our eyes meet. I have witnessed the entire incident. Her eyes scan my face for a reaction, perhaps even guidance. I shrug, bemused. This seems to satisfy her, and she reluctantly wraps her slender fingers around the paper, stuffing it into her bag.

Brakes squeal again. The doors open and I am at my stop. I brush past the straphangers and step off the train, into the rest of my day. As the doors close behind me, I glance back to catch a glimpse of the raven-haired lady mournfully staring once more at nothing. And then, in a hiss of metal, she is gone.

Monday, April 11, 2005


The lizards who run the world are awake. And they hate when the Yankees lose.

Mass Marketing

I was born and raised in Massachusetts. Grew up in Chelmsford; performed on the stage from Gloucester to Sudbury; went to Brandeis in Waltham; lived in Newton; sailed the Merrimack; worked and played in Lowell; stood on Lexington Green; taken a dip in Walden Pond; spent many a college night of debauchery out in Western Mass; seen many a Pats' game in Foxboro; lounged on the beaches of the Cape; walked the eerie streets of Salem; churned butter at Plymouth Plantation; told jokes from atop Fanueil Hall; saw Tiny Tim get married at Spooky World back when it was in Berlin; experienced heartbreak and victory at Fenway ... and more. Much more. I think I know Massachusetts.

So it was a little disappointing to witness my home state's latest ad campaign spotlighting "normal" people mechanically repeating the line "This is my Massachusetts" over bland and emotionless stock footage of what is supposed to be highlights of the great commonwealth.

Okay. You guys ain't DeNiro, this ain't an American Express commercial, and Massachusetts ain't New York. The half-hearted attempt to promote the wonders of Mass by mimicking credit card ads promoting New York City just comes off as desperate and lame. Massachusetts is home to the World Champion Boston Red Sox and the World Champion New England Patriots, making it possibly the best sports town around right now. It's the home of the American Revolution and home to the "cradle of American liberty," where the famous "shot heard 'round the world" was fired. It's the birth place of Jack Kerouac and John F. Kennedy, the breeding ground for some of the best comics who ever picked up a mike, the home to the dirty water of the River Charles. The Hub of the Universe. Somehow, fuzzy camera work showing blurred lights, some lady shopping somewhere, and a random girl riding on a generic merry-go-round doesn't quite convey the majesty of Massachusetts.

In my humble opinion, of course...which is wicked pissah.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sweeping the clouds away

Note to self:

It's possible to love being on the roof too much.

Little sunburned. Ouch.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Spring forward

We officially opened up the roof deck today. About 60 degrees in Brooklyn, with a blazing bright sun shining and a cool, gentle breeze blowing across the rooftops.

Popped open a Sam Adams and sat on the roof, listening to the WEEI broadcast of the Red Sox on-line on my laptop, and smoked a Dominican stogie to officially usher in Spring. Heaven.

I have less than $300 in the bank right now, I have bills that need paying and taxes that need doing and I couldn't be happier. Well, maybe if the Sox had won today, but just being able to listen to the WEEI broadcast in Brooklyn is enough for me. I'm not greedy. And there I sat, blissfully soaking up the perfect day on top of my Brooklyn roof, content.

When I was but a toddler, I can remember driving around the front yard on my Big Wheels as my Zadie sat smoking a cigar on the front lawn, a static-y Red Sox game crackling over a tiny transistor radio and a big fat smile on his face, as the sun slowly dipped in the sky. Those days are eternally etched in my memory and remind me why I love Spring so much. Sometimes, it's the simplest things that bring me the most joy and those little moments that put everything in perspective for me. I'm off to go grill up some steaks and enjoy those little moments now.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Wedding blues

Prince Charles was supposed to marry Camilla Parker Bowles today, but 'twas delayed...for obvious reasons.

And when you look at the history of Charles' longtime love affair with Ms. Bowles, one really has to wonder if their love is just doomed. As if people didn't hate Charles and Camilla enough, Princess Di's spectacularly tragic death cemented Charles' bad luck as Di obtained de facto sainthood. And then, after years and years of living in sin, Charles finally tries to make an honest woman outta Camille...and the longest-serving (and most popular) Pope of the 20th Century dies.

Some Princes just can't catch a break. But just when I'm about to feel an ounce of pity for ol' Prince Chuck, I remember that he's a Prince. And I get over it. I'm pretty sure that's probably how he feels, too.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Career choices?

Who chooses a career based on spam mail? Seriously. Has spam proven in any way successful for companies? Or is it just a way for them to annoyingly ingrain their company names in people's psyches...? Or perhaps its intent is far more sinister, merely trying to fool me into thinking I have mail, only to shatter my hopes and dreams on this fine Thursday morning with its taunting promises of a career in the culinary arts.

Por ejemplo:

From : Culinary Careers
Sent : Thursday, April 7, 2005 3:26 AM
Subject : World-Class Culinary Training

Why, yes, I have dreamt about becoming a talented chef and opening up my own restaurant. And it took this email to show me that...!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Springtime for Tito

Spring seems to have finally arrived. And as a flirtatious blanket of warmth begins to wrap itself around the streets of NYC, I can't help but have a spring in my step and a goofy smile on my face for no discernible reason. Spring. Short skirts, sunglasses, and baseball.

Speaking of which, this latest news from has me a little bummed:

Francona taken to hospital after chest tightness

By Staff April 6, 2005

NEW YORK -- Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona has
been taken to a New York City hospital after
complaining of tightness in his chest.

A team spokesman said Francona, 45, was taken to
Cornell Medical Center for "precautionary reasons." He
will miss today's game between the Red Sox and
Yankees. Bench coach Brad Mills will serve as interim

Sox general manager Theo Epstein said he was taken to
the hospital by ambulance around 9:30 a.m. for what he
called "precautionary testing." Francona was
accompanied to the hospital by Sox trainer Jim Rowe.

We'll have more details as they become available.

All right, boys. With your backs against the wall and the Bombers looking to settle a grudge, you gotta go out there today and keep your heads in the game and your eyes on the prize. You gotta show 'em that you got heart and soul. You gotta show 'em that last year was no fluke and that when you're down in the dirt, you got nowhere to go but up.

You gotta go out there today and win one for Tito.


Well done, boys.

Final Score, after a spectacular 9th-inning rally against Rivera (and an A-Rod boot for a double-play-blowing error):

Red Sox - 7
Yankees - 3

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Acting Patriotic

So, Congress is finally taking a close look at the Patriot Act - something that they apparently didn't do 3 and 1/2 years ago, but I digress ...

The biggest concern is that the Patriot Act may not actually be helping fight terrorism. Oh, sure it greatly increases the powers of the government and places some tight restrictions on civil liberties in order to maintain security, but some would argue that while the Patriot Act has limited certain freedoms, it hasn't come through on that important second part: increasing security. And what good is reducing freedom if you're not increasing security? Cutting through the jingoism and the soundbytes, it's a good idea to actually examine programs, laws, and tools. I mean, that's the standard we've implemented for students, doesn't our national security deserve the same scrutiny? I mean, if we're really serious about finding the most effective ways to combat terrorism. The only time I'm ever nervous about test results is if I think I have a chance of failing the test. Which is how AG Gonzales appears right now. Why would he want to fight for something if it's proven to be an ineffective tool in the War on Terrorism? I mean, unless the intent was never to increase security and really fight terrorism. Again, I digress.

From the MSNBC article:

In a political environment long on hyperbole and short on empirical evidence, this week’s hearings will be a chance for proponents of the Patriot Act to offer proof that it works and for the law’s opponents to offer specific instances of it being used to violate constitutional rights.

The hearings will be an opportunity for Gonzales "to put some color, some interesting stories, to the statistics," said Viet Dinh, who served as assistant attorney general in the Bush administration until last summer and had a central role in writing the Patriot Act.

I'm guessing that "color" will be brown-ish...

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Enemy Within

I have never liked David Wells. His bulky frame, his beer gut, and gruff attitude always struck me as being like every bullying redneck jock I hated in high school. But here's my real problem with David Wells playing for the Red Sox:

The Red Sox can't have an ex-Yankee playing on the team and expect to win against the Yankees.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the Yankees are like the Marines. Once a Yankee, always a Yankee. Semper Fi. Wells playing for the Sox is like some sort of Manchurian Candidate plot by the Yankees, only when Wells sees pinstripes, he falls under the command of George Steinbrenner.

Didn't the Sox learn anything with the Mendoza fiasco? Remember Game 3 of last year's ALCS? At a crucial moment of the game, Mendoza balked. The floodgates opened and the Yankees masacred us. Last night, what does Wells do? He balks. The Sox cannot take ex-Yankees and expect them to win against the Bronx Bombers. Once a Yankee, always a Yankee.

On the plus side, reading Thomas Boswell's absurd Oct. 17th, 2004 post-game review of last year's Game 3 cheered me up.

"No team in baseball history has come back from such a postseason deficit. These Red Sox won't be the first to do such a deed, not after the way their own boneheaded blunders perfectly complemented the 22-hit Yankees slugging in this rout."

Ah. Except the Red Sox did go on to become the first- and so far, only - team in history to come back from such a postseason deficit. And, at least, Red Sox Nation will always have that. I just wish we didn't have David Wells.